Olive the Oiled Otter, an iconic member of her species, has been killed by a shark six years after researchers saved her life and first began tracking the famous animal.
The otter’s body was recovered in Monterey, California, on Sunday, according to NBC News, and researchers found a tooth from a great white shark amid her wounds. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife noted that a beachgoer stumbled upon Olive’s remains after the attack, putting to rest over six years of study. As wildlife biologist Colleen Young points out, there is little doubt that a shark is responsible.
— KTVU (@KTVU) March 27, 2015
“We found wounds consistent with a shark bite. We also found a large, serrated tooth fragment from a white shark in one of the wounds, which confirmed our suspicions that she was bit by a shark.”
Olive first made headlines in 2009, when the otter was discovered covered in oil and near death on Santa Cruz beach. The otter was rehabilitated by various institutions, including the CDFW, the Marine Mammal Center, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and UC Santa Cruz Long Marine Lab, and quickly became a social media star, with over 5,000 fans on her devoted Facebook page.
Researchers used techniques that were new at the time to clean the otter’s pelt, bringing her back to her normal weight. She was the first of her species to survive in captivity after falling victim to an oil slick, and would go on to deliver healthy offspring years later.
— California Flighty (@CAFlighty) March 27, 2015
Thanks to Olive, researchers were able to refine their cleaning techniques before releasing the animal back into the wild. She was last checked in July 2012, when she was found to be pregnant with a litter of three pups. A very high-frequency transmitter and dedicated flipper tags allowed researchers to track the otter until the end of her life.
Shark bites constitute the leading cause of death among otters in the region, according to SF Gate, and the species is listed as threatened. While white sharks often prey upon animals like otters, as the Inquisitr has previously reported, the species has also faced a variety of threats in the past from hunters who valued the animals’ fur pelts. At one point, otters were nearly wiped out by over-hunting.
Olive the Oiled Otter, rescued and released, spotted in the wild with her 2nd pup. Hope fulfilled. pic.twitter.com/WcelbIunir
— Rescued (@OrangewoodWild) August 3, 2013
The Department of Fish and Wildlife pointed out that the animal died quickly after the attack, as the wounds showed no signs of healing. Olive the otter was just 7-years-old when she fell victim to the great white shark.
[Image via Facebook]