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Small actions

Small actions that help sea otters

sea otter face close-up

Sea otters were hunted to near-extinction by the 1920s, leaving surviving populations small and vulnerable. They are now primarily threatened by oil spills, conflict with the fishing industry and diseases that are intensified by pollution. More than 40 percent of California sea otter deaths are caused by parasitic, fungal, or bacterial infections, and studies have linked these deaths to higher levels of toxins, including pesticides, in their marine habitat. Oil spills compromise sea otters' ability to insulate, causing them to die of hypothermia.

How you can help

  1. Use Seafood Watch

    A phone showing the Seafood Watch app. A person is holding it over a table setting.

    The demand for seafood profoundly impacts fish populations and marine habitats worldwide. As a result, some species of fish commonly found on menus are now severely imperiled in the wild. Consumers can make choices that are healthier for oceans by using the Seafood Watch, which ranks seafood as "best choice," "good alternative" or "avoid", based on issues affecting each species. The guide also lets users share locations of restaurants and markets where they've found sustainable seafood.

  2. Choose non-toxic garden pest control

    A person bends over while spraying the lawn with a chemical. A small dog is also on the lawn.

    Garden products like pesticides and fungicides can harm wildlife — not just garden pests — and pollute the environment. Learn more about getting rid of pests without chemicals.

  3. Water your lawn and plants in the morning and evening

    A person pours water into a raised garden bed with leafy greens.

    Conserving water leaves more water in the local waterways, and helps preserve aquatic habitats and the species that rely on them. Watering your lawn when the sun is low helps avoid evaporation. It also helps avoid excessive watering, which can carry pollutants and sediments back into the water source.

  4. Make your own non-toxic cleaners

    Non-toxic household cleaners such as vinegar and baking soda are on a kitchen counter next to a sink and safety gloves.

    Using cleaners made from everyday ingredients like baking soda, rubbing alcohol and vinegar helps keep pollutants out of waterways and the air. Store-bought products used to clean laundry, surfaces and dishes often contain chemicals that can poison wildlife and contaminate ecosystems. Get cleaner recipes here.

  5. Donate to the Oregon Zoo Foundation

    Adult female checkerspot butterfly in the Butterfly Lab.

    Donate now and make a world of difference for wildlife!