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Sea otter of Facebook fame swims home

April 7, 2009 |  3:24 pm

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.

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