Local auction 

It’s time to start looking for otter carvings!

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  • Marc Larson
  • Michelle Kunst, program and project organizer at The Land Trust, joined Jeff Black in monitoring the location of Maureen McGarry’s otter.

The North Coast Otters Public Art Initiative’s long-awaited scavenger hunt of 108 otter sculptures painted by local artists across five North Coast counties has finally started and will continue until September.

Initiative creator and Humboldt State University wildlife professor Jeff Black says he’s very excited to finally release the otter sculptures.

“I received phone calls from people in the community telling me that they were happy to be able to search [the sculptures]”Black told the Newspaper. “I am very excited to give people something to look forward to.”

All otter sculptures are auctioned off in a silent online auction open all summer, and the highest-bidding sculptures will be sold in a live auction in September. The funds will then be used to fund HSU otter research and student internships in community watershed projects.

The North Coast Otters Public Art Initiative was created to celebrate life, water and otters, support local businesses, and raise funds for student projects.

You can download the otter sculpture guide (or artist’s location key) here, or just go to the nearest store, gallery, school, or other North Coast locations. to retrieve a copy.

“The initiative was born out of a desire to share what we are learning about wild river otters with the community,” said Black. “River otters are at the top of the food chain in coastal watersheds, rivers and wetlands, and just like us, river otters need clean water and fresh food every day.”

Black says that “Bunty”, the sculpture that inspired him to create the initiative, will make “special appearances” to promote the treasure hunt.

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Jeff Black and Bunty the Otter (Art) - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON

  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • Jeff Black and Bunty the Otter (Art)

Good hunt!

Over 100 otter sculptures on display as part of public art initiative to raise awareness of river otters in California

The eagerly awaited otters of the north coast are here! The North Coast Otters Public Art Festival, Scavenger Hunt and Online Auction begins today.

North Coast Otters Public Arts Initiative is a community ‘scavenger hunt’ tour of over 100 sculptures painted by local artists, with the aim of celebrating life, water and otters, supporting local businesses and collecting funds for student projects. Visit the North Coast Otters Public Arts Initiative website for more information.

North Coast Otters merges art and science, encouraging the imagination and observation of our region’s rich creative community.

The project commissioned 108 unique pieces of otter art now on display in stores, galleries, schools and other venues on the North Coast. Participating artists decorated three-foot-tall otter sculptures for an educational art journey in Humboldt, Del Norte, Mendocino, Trinity and Siskiyou counties.

Use maps and guides to locate otters. Learn all about the charismatic creature, who shares our wild rivers, coasts and wetlands. A Junior Otter Spotters “activity book” will be available to inspire young and old alike.

Otter Art sculptures are available for auction in an online silent auction throughout the summer, and the highest bidding sculptures will be sold at an auction in September. Proceeds will go to HSU otter research and student internships in community watershed projects.

A guide, available at each host site and downloadable from the website, lists the locations of participating stores, restaurants and visitor centers. This public art initiative provides an accessible opportunity to explore our connection to the natural world.

“The initiative was born out of a desire to share what we are learning about wild river otters with the community,” says Jeff Black, professor and project manager at HSU Wildlife. “River otters are at the top of the food chain in coastal watersheds, rivers and wetlands, and just like us, river otters need clean water and fresh food every day.”

The project encourages community members to participate in the ongoing citizen science study of river otter records by systematically reporting when and where wild river otters are seen throughout the North Coast region.

Since 1999, HSU students have been collecting recordings of otters from citizen volunteers in order to monitor the quality of habitats on the north coast. River otters, seen at any time of the day in our area, have attracted the attention of thousands of people.

“Some of these wild river otters travel far and wide to find enough food each day,” Black explains. “River otters are starting to recover thanks to habitat restoration and cleanup efforts, but they need our commitment to ensure their presence in the wild. “

Send details of wild otter sightings to [email protected] or call (707) 826-3439.


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