Momentum has grown to return sea otters to the Oregon Coast.

For many Oregonians, hearing the phrase “sea otter reintroduction” brings a feeling of confusion.

After all, you can watch sea otters swim and dive at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. And you can travel to a myriad of places named in honor of the fuzzy marine mammals, from Otter Rock to Otter Crest to Otter Creek.

It feels like sea otters are here with us. But they’re not. And with a brief exception, they haven’t been for more than a century.

“About 90% of the people I interact with in talking about sea otters in Oregon don’t even know that they’re not here,” said Chanel Hason, director of outreach and community relations for the Elakha Alliance, a group that’s been advocating for the return of sea otters since 2018.

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