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Sea otter of Facebook fame swims home

Dry otter cute 

Olive, the oil-slicked sea-otter who gained a fan club on Facebook after washing up on a Monterey Bay beach in February, has returned to the sea.

She slid out of her cage into the waves at Sunset State Beach this  morning after six weeks of rehabilitation from a coating by a natural oil seep. Officials from the California Department of Fish and Game, who cared for the otter at their Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center in Santa Cruz, had nicknamed her "Olive."

And before releasing her, she was implanted with a tracking device so biologists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium can follow her and monitor her health.

"Olive ... taught us a great deal about the pollution-related problems sea otters face," said DFG veterinarian Dave Jessup. "She is ready to return home."

Sea otters are protected species under state and federal law: Only about 2,800 southern sea otters are left in California. They help sustain kelp forests that are vital to ocean health by feeding on shellfish and other plant-eating species. And of course, they are cute, as nearly 900 fans on Olive's facebook page, set up by DGF officials, can attest.

By mid-day Tuesday, Aquarium officials reported, Olive was "acclimating well and currently resting."

--Margot Roosevelt

Photo: Olive. Credit: California Department of Fish and Game.

 
Comments () | Archives (2)

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wow thats amazing otters are my favorite animals

Sea otters eat just about anything but they subsist on urchins after the best species like abalone are no longer easy to get, this in turn allows kelp to thrive since purple urchin number have sky-rocketed from upper intertidal (where they were confined) to the lower the lower intertidal.

In the lower intertidal the purple urchins often eat the holdfasts of kelp and this destroys the rest of the plant which usually washes up onshore. The only predator on purple urchins which we have allowed to survive are otters and researchers, but since Fish & Game is controlled by the fishermen through the Commission we will be having problems from loss of kelp for a long time to come.

Kelp helps to slow erosion on the coast as well as being the basis for the food web in our waters but we aren't using our resources wisely and when the red urchin becomes no longer commercially viable for a fishery then maybe we can get control of our resources again by getting rid of the businessmen and women who control the Fish & Game Commission. The Urchin Divers would just as soon kill the otters if they were allowed to. Keep your eyes open and don't let them do it!


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