April 5, 2017

Are there otters in the Rio Grande?

Posted by larryohanlon

By Kelly Steinberg, BEMP Educator

Otter Day participants gather at Bosque School in Albuquerque.

On a chilly Tuesday morning on April 4th, 2017, 120 1st graders and 35 high school students braved the cold and the wind to celebrate Otter Day! Every year Bosque School students invite young students to learn about otters and their habitat in New Mexico. The host students led games like River Clean Up Tag and Otter Adaptation Dress Up and together they packed an otter’s lunch box. The students all went for a hike in the bosque, where they saw porcupines, ducks and rollie pollies! They even had a singalong of our original Otter Day song!

Otter Day puzzles that reveal secret messages?

Otters were extirpated from New Mexico in the 50’s but were reintroduced to the Rio Grande near Taos in 2006. Since then, otters have been spotted as far south as Cochiti Lake.  To protect the their future in New Mexico, students learn they need to protect otter habitat. Each class assembled a puzzle to reveal the secret messages that would help them protect otters: conserve water, keep the river clean by picking up dog poop and trash and teach others about otters!

Thanks to all the Bosque School students who hosted and the 1st grade classes and teachers who attended! This year many Bosque School students were involved: Mr. Shaw’s wildlife classes led hikes and otter activities, Ms. Rekow’s Spanish and the Environment class led activities about insects and food webs, Ms. Hart’s Treble Ensemble taught 1st graders the Otter Song, and the tech students helped us set up the audio system, even in howling winds. Thanks to all who contributed, supported, and attended this adorable and fun-filled event!

Across 350 kilometers of the The Middle Rio Grande River students and their teachers from kindergarten through college serve as field scientists for the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program (BEMP). Bosque means ‘forest’ in Spanish, and refers to the vast cottonwood forest that straddles the Rio Grande. Currently there are 32 study sites, and over 1 million data points are collected each year by many local students who would otherwise have limited access to environmental education. This Albuquerque-based program shows how local science initiatives can connect people to their landscapes while helping inform resource management decisions.

This and other BEMP posts can be found at the BEMPin’ It Up blog.