Sea otters are a marine mammal.
They are found along the Pacific rim. Otters were originally hunted
in the early 1900s for their fur, so the numbers of otters that would have been along
the coastline could have been as many as 16,000 to 20,000 otters.
Now we have just a little over 3,000. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Program
takes in injured and orphaned otters of all ages, and we’ve learned a lot about sea otters through
our wild sea otter research as well as our sea otter surrogacy program and
raising otters to be released to the wild. We tried various techniques for
raising the pups and we found that the one that worked the best was to put a
sea otter pup with a surrogate mom. It helps them being raised by a surrogate
mom because they don’t imprint on humans. So when we are feeding or doing anything
that would be positive, then we are wearing these disguises which we call
kind of the Darth Vader disguises, so that way when we’re feeding the idea is that we don’t
want them to associate anything positive with humans. We needed a place to release these otters, and so at one point we had a couple of them
that actually swam up to Elkhorn Slough when we released them off
the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and we found that that area was a really good area
for them to be in, so we started taking them up there. Right now we’re trying to pick up
animals that have radio transmitters, but that we may not be able to see,
so if we have any tagged animals we’d potentially be able to
pick up their signal. Okay so that’s a tagged animal with a pup.
Looks like that might be 657. The number of otters that we’ve
introduced into the slough, and the number of otters that
have reproduced that are rehab otters, we’ve discovered that about 60% of the
current number of animals in there could be descendants from
our rehab program, and it’s really nice for us to be able to contribute
to the population, and hopefully see it grow to more than the 3,000 number that it is right now.