Sea otter" project

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

Due to population declines in recent decades that have resulted in low population numbers (200 to 700 individuals of otters on the Peruvian coast), the world's smallest marine mammal is under strict protection(IUCN, CITES, CMS) and yet suffers from high levels of human impact.

The field work of this study, which involves collecting sea otter fecal samples from rocky coastal strands, harbors, and some islands in Peru over a distance of approximately 2000 kilometers, takes place using completely non-invasive means. In the sea otter project, the samples are processed (DNA extraction, amplification and sequencing) in the laboratories of the Zoological Institute of the Christian Albrechts University of Kiel and the resulting data are analyzed.

The results on the genetic diversity and population structure of the sea otter will provide sound arguments to the Peruvian authorities in decisions regarding coastal and species protection.

In cooperation with Pro Delphinus, workshops are organized in fishing villages during the field work. The participating school children - many of them future fishermen - learn in this way about the need for species and nature conservation.

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