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Olive the oiled sea otter -- of Facebook fame -- returns to wild

April 7, 2009 |  2:40 pm

Olive dines on a clam during rehabilitation.

You might remember Olive the sea otter, found stranded on a beach in Monterey Bay on Feb. 21, all covered with oil from a natural seep.

She became famous during her rehabilitation after the launch of her own Facebook page, but on Tuesday morning she traded fame for freedom.

Olive, who was cared for at the Department of Fish and Game's Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center in Santa Cruz, and fitted with a tracking device by scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, scampered from her cage at the same beach and took willingly to the vast blue ocean.

"Olive has been a great patient. She has taught us a great deal and will likely teach us much more about the pollution-related problems sea otters face," DFG vet Dave Jessup said in a news release.

Her release occurs during a lively and somewhat perilous season in Monterey Bay, though. Pacific gray whales are migrating north with calves and killer whales soon will lurk on the fringes of the deep canyons hoping to ambush whales and other mammals.

Here's hoping Olive has run out of bad luck; that she'll stay close to kelp, as otters generally do; and that she will steer clear of oil seeps and, by all means, hungry orcas.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Olive dines on a clam during rehabilitation. Credit: Department of Fish and Game