Rescue and Release: The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Program


[Music ♫] Sea otters are the delightful and charming superstars of Monterey Bay. [♫] They’re also a threatened species with
an uncertain future. Today there are only 3,000 sea otters left in California. [♫] Our researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium monitor this fragile population closely. We are working to understand how we can help the population recover. Life is tough for a sea otter and especially for sea otter pups. They’re completely dependent on their mothers, and when a big storm rolls in, crashing waves and strong currents can separate a sea otter mom from her pup. This stranded pup is just a few days old. Without her mom she will not be able to survive on her own. [Pup screeches] [Upbeat music ♫] That’s where the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Program steps in. Our team of staff and volunteers respond to calls of stranded sea otters that come ashore along the California coast. [Pup screeching and squeaking] When we find a stranded sea otter pup, the first thing we do is try to reunite it with its mother. [Pup squeaks] If we can’t find her, we take the pup back to the Aquarium for further care. [Pup squeaking, people chatting] The first stop on our pup’s journey is to Dr. Mike for a checkup. [Dr. Mike] How are you doing, huh?
Don’t bite the nice doctor. Once he gives her the all-clear, the rescued pup heads behind the scenes for rehabilitation. [Water sounds, pup squeaking] Raising a sea otter pup is an around-the-clock job. Every few hours, we give the pup a special formula that mimics mother’s milk. And when we’re not giving her milk, we’re grooming and grooming and grooming! [Pup sounds] A sea otter mom will spend hours every day grooming her pup, so we do the same. All that fur makes a sea otter pup float like a cork! Sea otter pups can’t swim when they’re this young, so we tow her around, flip her over
and encourage her to dive— just like mom would do in the wild! [Water and pup sounds] We also give her a few toys to chew on. This helps build the jaw strength and coordination needed to eat solid food. [♫] When we care for pups, we put on a special outfit! [♫] The dark face shield and loose black poncho disguise our staff so the sea otter pup doesn’t bond with humans. [♫] Stranded sea otters are wild animals and we want them to stay wild. [♫] It’s been nearly two months of intensive
care since our stranded pup was first rescued. [♫] It’s time for our resident otters to step in. [♫] A sea otter mom will spend almost a year with her pup teaching all the skills needed to be a wild otter. [♫] The Monterey Bay Aquarium
pioneered the first ever otter surrogacy program, [water and pup sounds] pairing our resident otters with
stranded pups to provide maternal care. [♫] After a little time getting to know each
other, the pup’s surrogate mom is ready to get to work. [♫] Mom teaches her pup how to handle live prey, how to find food buried in the sand, and how to crack open shells. [♫] And when Aquarium visitors head home for the day, we move the pup into the Sea Otter Exhibit where she can practice deep diving and foraging in cracks and crevices for food. In the wild, sea otters play a big role in keeping the ocean healthy. They are gardeners of the kelp forest and other important coastal habitats. [♫] It’s essential that our rescued pup learn
all the skills she needs to succeed in her important role. [♫] After spending months with her surrogate mom, our stranded sea otter is ready for release back into the wild. For over 30 years, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has worked to rescue and rehabilitate stranded sea otter pups along the California coast. [♫] [Subtitle writer’s note: Yaayy!!] Our program is beginning to have some
significant impacts. In Elkhorn Slough, a wetland in Monterey Bay, over half the otters are direct descendants of the Aquarium’s Sea Otter Program. They’re transforming the slough into a healthy and thriving habitat. And maybe one day, the same success story will happen in other coastal habitats where otters have not been for hundreds of years. None of this work would be possible without your support. Please join us as we work to save California sea otters. [♫]

20 Comments

  1. Sending you so much love and respect! Amazing little animals.. I hope for their comeback in the wild, and I can’t say enough for these surrogate moms!

  2. So proud of the excellent work and research you guys have done for decades, and for being able to celebrate with you verifiable success in your mission with the sea otters. Go Team! Let's save this planet, and especially its helpless inhabitants.

  3. πŸ¦‹πŸ»πŸˆπŸ¦„πŸΎπŸ’— LOVE What U R Doing 2 Help These Awesome Creatures. πŸ’—πŸΎ ' They R Beyond Cute ' 🐾🌟, Bless Them All + Yrselves. 🌟🐾 Good Job, Monterey Bay Aquarium!!.🌟🌟 πŸΎπŸŒŸπŸ¦‹πŸ»πŸˆπŸ™πŸΎπŸŒŸ

  4. Those little sea otter pup cries! She's so cute! That must hurt when the surrogate mother has to give up the little fur baby.

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