Meet Our Otters

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Aquarium of the Bay is excited to announce the newest addition to its aquatic family – Tahoe, a juvenile North American river otter. Tahoe made his public debut on Friday, April 14, 2017 in the Aquarium’s North American River Otter Gallery.

Tahoe will join Shasta, Baxter, Ryer, and the 20,000 fish, sharks, and other animals living at Aquarium of the Bay to help share the message about the importance of the health and interconnectedness of our natural resources. North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) live throughout California and are an important indicator for the health of the waterways that feed into San Francisco Bay. By providing the opportunity for the Aquarium’s guests – including over 20,000 school children that visit for free each year – to connect with river otters, Aquarium of the Bay is working to build a connection between its visitors, the river otters, and a healthy watershed.

Learn more about Tahoe and river otters when you visit Aquarium of the Bay.

Otter Talks

Where: Otters: Watershed Ambassadors
When: 11 am & 2 pm, Daily
Length: 15 minutes 

Join a naturalist as they introduce our favorite watershed ambassador: the North American river otter. Learn about these charismatic mammals, how they differ from their sea otter cousins, and find out how you can help keep their homes in the wild healthy and clean. Guests may even have a chance to catch an otter training session during a special appearance by our animal care staff.

What's the difference between Sea Otters and River Otters?

River otters and sea otters have some things in common, such as:
  • They’re both a type of weasel with long, slender bodies
  • They have webbed feet for swimming, and are excellent underwater hunters
  • They have two layers of fur to keep warm in cold water
  • A group of otters in the water is called a “raft.”
Here’s how river otters are different from sea otters:

River Otters   Sea Otters
Are about 20-25 pounds   Are about 50-100 pounds
Live in fresh water, like rivers and lakes, and slightly salty water, like in the Bay   Live in salt water, in the ocean
Spend half their time on land and half in the water   Almost never leave the water
Swim on their bellies   Float on their backs
Have little paws and can run quickly on land            Have wide webbed feet, and are really awkward on land, like they’re wearing SCUBA flippers
Eat their food on land or on a rock or log   Eat their food off their belly as they float on their backs
Sleep in dens underground   Sleep wrapped in a kelp “seatbelt”
Eat fish, frogs, crayfish, bugs, rats, and birds   Eat urchins, crabs, clams, octopuses