As you may have heard, we’re putting together a sea otter themed art exhibition in honor of Sea Otter Awareness Week, The Otter Zone. I’ve been calling far and wide for sea otter themed or inspired art, and have gotten lots of great submissions.
I’ve also gotten some really interesting questions regarding what we’re willing to include. A colleague in Alaska asked if we would be interested in traditional handicrafts that were made up of sea otter fur.
The listing of the Alaskan sea otters under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Marine Mammal Proction Act include a stipulation that allows for the use of otter pelts in traditional handicrafts, so the practice is legal. It’s also generally accepted by conservationists as having an insignificant affect on population numbers. It’s the animal rights folks that tend to be uncomfortable with the practice.
So all in all, a difficult question! Do we include works that are valuable to our understanding of sea otters in history and culture? Or do we look for a less…literal representation? What do you think?