Unusual Beach Find: Abandoned Baby Otter Rescued

An unusual beach find by kayakers revealed an abandoned newborn sea otter clinging to life. The cute creature was discovered on a beach in the California waterfront community of Morro Bay on October 19, as reported by the Tribune. When the sweet furry pup with the big eyes was found, the baby female otter was alone and appeared to be abandoned.

The unusual beach find the Kayakers came across was the baby otter that appeared to have been washed up and stranded at the Morro Bay Sandpit. Upon discovering the now diagnosed malnourished baby, the kayakers called authorities at the Morro Bay Harbor Department. The sea otter pup was deemed to be abandoned by her mother, as stated by Becka Kelly, a patrol supervisor for the Morro Bay Harbor Department. Understanding the unusual stranding of a sea otter pup, Kelly stated how the department thought the mother may have been close in the nearby waters.

“We really don’t know how the otter got separated, we drove it around [by boat] to let it call out to its mom, but there was no response,” Kelly detailed.

The unusual beach find was transferred by the Marine Mammal Center to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s intensive care unit, approximately 150 miles away. With no hope left of reuniting the lost baby with her mother, the Harbor Department contacted the Marine Mammal Center in Morro Bay. The Marine Mammal Center is a volunteer effort working to rescue and save animals.

Officials at the aquarium figured the animal to be one day old. She was determined to be underweight for a pup, weighing only 2.62 pounds upon arrival at their care unit. The Monterey Bay Aquarium, known for having a specialized Southern Sea Otter program, is tending to the baby. With constant 24-hour care, aquarium officials are hoping the baby otter will recover fully.

“She may have never had the benefit of having mom’s milk, so her lack of immune development means that she will require intensive care over the next several weeks,” Angela Hains, an aquarium spokesperson, stated.

The length of care for the unusual beach find, which the program estimates the baby otter will need, is seven to eight months. That is the same dependent time frame that a baby otter requires from her mother in the wild. Hopefully, the otter will have a happy ending, becoming healthy enough to be safely released back into nature at the Elkhorn Slough National Reserve at Moss Landing, as detailed in a response from the City of Morro Bay on their Facebook page.

“The baby otter has a VHS transmitter in its abdomen, along with a tag. Once the otter is released at nearby Elkhorn Slough in Moss Landing, the signal is tracked. Often the otters will not be able to fend for themselves right away and will be brought back into the research center for further rehab, and then be re-released at Elkhorn Slough.”

According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Program, the southern sea otters are listed as a threatened species. Their near extinction occurred in the early 20th century after being sought out by hunters. Supervisor Kelly explained that finding an infant otter on a beach is rare, which is what prompted officials to originally attempt to find the baby’s mother, according to the Tribune.

Although the infant was an unusual beach find, pups do get stranded. The aquarium has a surrogate program that aids in raising and releasing lost baby otters. In addition, the Sea Otter Program works to rescue and care for injured otters in hopes that they can be released back into their natural habitats. For sea otters that cannot be placed back into the wild, the program seeks new homes for the sea mammals to live happily in. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Program studies the sea otters with the goal of recovering their population by reducing threats.

In a recent tweet, the aquarium put a “Spotlight on why sea otters.”

null

For people coming across an unusual beach find of a stranded sea otter, the aquarium alerts to not bundle the animal in a towel. Rescue photos prompted Morro Bay officials to pass on the caring advice from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, noting that their thick fur makes otters’ susceptible to overheating.

“Babies have very, very thick fur, and it can actually be dangerous to wrap or swaddle a sea otter pup,” stated Deputy City Manager Sam Taylor.

A baby otter seen alone on a beach may appear to be abandoned, but the mother may have left it for a moment to slip away only to look for food. The mother may return, so authorities urge those discovering a pup to contact the proper officials. Those coming upon an unusual beach find of any injured or ill marine animal, or stranded young creature, are urged to contact authorities.

[Featured Image By Robert Giroux/ Getty Images]