Project "Sea Otter"

The Otter Project "Proyecto Lontra felina" is a genetic study led by Dr. Juan Valqui on the population of marine otters (Lontra felina) living on the coast of Peru.

Due to population collapses in recent decades, which have led to low population numbers (200 to 700 individuals of otters on the Peruvian coast), the world's smallest marine marine mammal is under strict protection (IUCN, CITES, CMS) and still suffers from a high degree of human influence.

The fieldwork of this study, in which faecal samples of sea otters are collected over a distance of about 2000 kilometers on rocky coastlines, harbors and on some islands in Peru, is carried out with completely non-invasive means. In the marine otter project, the samples are processed in the laboratories of the Zoological Institute of Kiel University (DNA extraction, amplification and sequencing) and the resulting data is analysed.

The results on the genetic diversity and population structure of the sea otter should provide the Peruvian authorities with well-founded arguments in decisions regarding coastal and species protection.

In cooperation with Pro Delphinus , workshops are organized in fishing villages during the field work. In this way, the participating schoolchildren – many of them future fishermen – learn about the necessity of species and nature conservation.

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