California Naturalist
California Naturalist
California Naturalist
University of California
California Naturalist

Community Science for CA Naturalists

Welcome to our ongoing effort to catalog citizen science and other public participation in scientific research (PPSR) projects for UC California Naturalists and other citizen scientists.  We invite you to browse the listed projects or enter key words (like birds, youth, invasive, coast, Alameda, etc.) in the search box above to find projects in your area. It's a great way to stay involved and keep developing your skills as a natural scientist!

A vast majority of the information in the database was gathered from project websites and may be out of date. We encourage you to contact projects directly to get involved and learn about most recent opportunities. If you work with a listed project and would like to add to, update, or correct the information we have, please email Also, please consider filling out the "PPSR perspectives" survey. Click here to access the survey, which will help guide this project in the coming year.

If you know of a project not on our list, please go to the "tell us about a project" link on the left so we can list the project here. Thanks for your help!

Special thanks goes to the National Science Foundation Informal Science Education program and the Stephen J. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation for supporting this database of projects.

 Project Name Otter Spotter
 Organization Name The River Otter Ecology Project
 Project Website
 Organization Website
 Partners Golden Gate National Recreation Area, National Park Service Coastal Marine Labs, California Academy of Sciences
 Contact Email
 Other Contact Information

online date submittal form:

or email sightings to:

 Project Purpose (taken from project materials) Once we gather hundreds of such observations we will be able to assess all the data and the status and ecology of Bay Area river otters, of which nothing is currently known.  

 Participant Activities OTTER SPOTTERS will collect observational data (range, habitats, behavior, reproduction) and scat (for diet analysis) if possible.  Photographs and video-recording are strongly encouraged especially close-up footage of facial and head features. 

 Data Entry Website
 Other Participant Activities

interactive map:

 System Studied Mammals
 Geographic Scope Regional
 Region Northern California
 Location Bay Area waterways where otters are found
 Time Commitment Other (see Other Information below)
 Volunteer Qualifications
  • Binoculars
  • Camera w/ zoom lens (if possible)
  • GPS (if possible)
  • Baggies for storing scat you collect,  washable or throw-away exam gloves.
  • Notebook for recording your observations.
 Volunteer Training

Otter Spotter Etiquette:

 How will the findings be used? Our work will serve to fill key gaps in the biology and ecology of these elusive but important aquatic carnivores while also directly engaging the public in their conservation through field-research, environmental education  and strategic restoration partnerships.


If you work with this project and would like to add to or update the information below, please email

If you know of a project not on our list, please go to the "tell us about a project" link on the left so we can list the project here. Thanks for your help!

This database is focused on projects in California focused on the environment. For opportunities outside California, as well as national projects that don't have a California-specific components, check

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