World Otter Day Date in the current year: May 29, 2024

World Otter Day World Otter Day is celebrated annually on the last Wednesday of May. It was created to raise awareness of the conservation status of otters since more than half of all extant otter species are classified as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Otters are carnivorous mammals that form the subfamily Lutrinae of the family Mustelidae, which also includes badgers, ferrets, wolverines, martens, polecats, weasels, minks, and ermines, among other animals. There are 13 extant otters species that are all semiaquatic, aquatic, or marine. These cute, playful animals play an important role in ecosystems because their position as top predators helps prevent overpopulation of invertebrates and preserve kelp forests.

Sadly, seven of the thirteen otter species are classified as threatened by the IUCN: the hairy-nosed otter, the smooth-collared otter, the southern river otter, the marine otter, the giant otter, the Asian small-clawed otter, and the sea otter. Fiver more species of otters are near threatened: the Eurasian otter, the spotted-necked otter, the Neotropical otter, the African clawless otter, and the Congo clawless otter. The North American river otter is the only otter species that is considered a species of least concern, but its range has been significantly reduced due to habitat loss over the past few centuries.

The main threats that otters face in the wild are man-made. They include pollution (chemical spills, industrial and agricultural waste, microplastics), habitat loss and fragmentation, prey base depletion caused by overfishing, excessive or unregulated trapping, illegal trade, fishing gear entanglements, and collisions with boats. Otters are also impacted by climate change, disease, and parasites.

The annual World Otter Day campaign is coordinated by the International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF), one of the world’s leading otter charities dedicated to the conservation, protection and care for the 13 species of otters worldwide. The event started in 2009 as Otterly Mad Week, evolved into International Otter Awareness Day in 2014, and finally became the IOSF World Otter Day in 2016.

The main goal of World Otter Day is to raise awareness of the importance of otters for ecosystems, shed light on the challenges and dangers they face, and bring together otter enthusiasts, conservationists and educations from all over the world to promote the protection of otters. Every year, the IOSF hosts workshops and other awareness events and activities with a focus on otter conservation, as well as offers three grants for small World Otter Day events held by enthusiasts.

There are many ways to celebrate World Otter Day. You can learn more about these fascinating animals and share the facts you’ve learned with others, check out the otter exhibit at your local zoo or aquarium, donate to the IOSF or any other otter charity of your choice, participate in a World Otter Day event near you or even organize an event of your own for your community, symbolically adopt an otter, and spread the word on social media using the hashtags #IOSFWorldOtterDay, #WorldOtterDay and #OtterDay.

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World Otter Day, international observances, environmental observances, otters, otter conservation