"Estuaries such as Long Island Sound are among the most valuable ecosystems in the world. The Sound supports diverse marine life, including most of the fish and shellfish we value as food ..."

– Connecticut Sea Grant

Conservation & Research

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Long Island Sound Fun Fact

Long Island Sound is 113 miles long, 21 miles wide (at its widest) and holds about 18 trillion gallons of water. Its average depth is 63 feet – which is just a little deeper than the height of our IMAX screen! Can you fathom that?!

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Common Name: North American river otter

Latin Name: Lontra canadensis

Size/weight:  Adult size is about 2.5 – 5 feet long (with tail) and 10 – 30 pounds.

Range: Throughout North America (Alaska, Canada and the lower 48 United States).

Habitat:  River otters can be found in or near fresh water (lakes, streams, marshes, etc…) and in brackish waters.  They build their dens (or take over abandoned dens of other animals) in riverbanks or in a natural hollow near the water.

Diet:  North American river otters find most of their food in the water; amphibians, fish, turtles, crayfish, crabs and other invertebrates are favorites.  Birds, eggs, aquatic plants, and small land mammals are sometimes on a river otter’s menu.

Predators:  Bobcats, coyotes, birds of prey, dogs. Hunting.

Description:  With their long, streamlined bodies and thick, tapered tails North American River otters are well suited to a life around the water. (Although they run with a distinctive "humpbacked" gait, they can run even faster than they can swim.) Otter fur is thick and dark brown, lighter on the underside.  Long, sensitive whiskers help them find food under water. 

Conservation Note:  Once heavily hunted for their fur, North American river otter populations continue to rebound. In Connecticut, the population is large and stable enough to have a legal trapping season. Threats come from development and pollution, as otters prefer quiet areas with clean water.

See Lew & Levi in the Rivers to the Sound watershed gallery »