Oregon Coast Aquarium (OCA) is celebrating the arrival of the newest member of its sea going family; Sea Otter #564. It’s a cute little male whose mother was eaten by a shark off Morro Bay off the central California coast. The pup was wounded in the attack. It was transported to the Monterey Bay Aquarium where it was rehabilitated. Efforts to isolate the otter pup to allow it to return to the wild were foiled when it was determined that the pup was too old to be nursed by a surrogate mother program at the facility. So, it went up for adoption. And the Oregon Coast Aquarium was the successful adopter.
The pup arrived at the OCA in late February and has been undergoing training. The pup has been introduced to its new family of otters, all three of them. They’ve been getting along very well, according to OCA’s Cindy Hanson who adds that the other otters are showing by example, how to forage for food, groom, dive and crack clams.
OCA Curator of Mammals Ken Lytwyn said “We’re very excited to have this new otter joining us at the aquarium. He’s one that would not have made it out in the wild and I’d like to thank everyone who made his transport here possible. Lytwyn said the pup was challenging to train because he had no human contact before his arrival at the Aquarium. “He’s got a very outgoing personality which becomes more expressive by the day. He enjoys interacting with the mammal staff and playing with the toys that we’ve given him.” Lytwyn said the aquarium is lucky to have him and looks forward to him growing up with the rest of the male sea otters named Aialik, Judge and Mojo. They too could not be released to the wild.
Hanson said the aquarium has called on the community to help name this newest addition to their sea otter exhibit. If anyone would like to offer a name for this little pup, submit it to the aquarium’s Facebook page, under OregonCoastAquarium.
OCA officials say sea otters play a critical role in the marine ecosystem as a “keystone species.” They promote a healthy kelp forest that, in turn, supports thousands of organisms. Sea otters are also an indicator or sentinel species. They are dying of diseases that have land-based connections. Since humans and sea otters eat many of the same seafood items, high rates of sea otter disease may be a warning for both human and marine ecosystem health.