Aquarium of the Pacific Welcomes Three New Rescued Sea Otter Pups
The one male and two female sea otters were found stranded and were deemed non-releasable to the wild by government wildlife officials.
Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific / Robin Riggs
The Aquarium of the Pacific is welcoming three new sea otter pups, who were deemed non-releasable to the wild by the US Fish and Wildlife Service because they were unable to survive in the ocean. The baby sea otters can be seen at the Aquarium’s Sea Otter Habitat in the Northern Pacific Gallery. Guests can watch these southern sea otters explore the habitat, interact with the Aquarium’s other rescue otters, and engage with the animal care staff during daily feeding and care sessions. These pups were named Elle, Bee, and Cee, whose names pronounced together represent the letters “LBC” in celebration of the city of Long Beach.
Elle was found stranded as a ten-day old pup at Marina State Beach in June 2022. In January 2023, Bee was found stranded as a three-week-old pup at Morro Strand Campground. Cee was found stranded as a five-day-old pup at Carmel Beach in January 2023. After Elle’s rescue, she was taken to Monterey Bay Aquarium where staff attempted to pair her with a surrogate mother in the hopes of one day returning her to the wild. However, this pairing was ultimately not successful as the two did not bond, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed Elle non-releasable. For both Bee and Cee, at the time of their strandings, there were no available surrogate sea otter mothers. Therefore, they were also deemed non-releasable.
“For the past two years, we have been temporarily housing young sea otters with the goal of freeing up space in the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Surrogacy Program so more sea otter pups have a chance to return to the wild,” said Brett Long, senior director of birds and mammals, Aquarium of the Pacific. Through this partnership, the Aquarium of the Pacific has been building a new area to serve as an additional location where adult female sea otters can serve as surrogate mothers to stranded sea otter pups with the goal of release back to the ocean.
The Aquarium of the Pacific also has a public fundraising campaign to support its work with rescued sea otter pups through this program. Anyone interested in getting involved and providing support, can visit pacific.to/saveseaotters and make a gift online or call (562) 951-3153. The Aquarium also offers the Adopt an Animal program, which helps fund many education and conservation initiatives. Supporters who symbolically adopt a sea otter receive special benefits depending on the level of their adoption such as an adoption certificate, animal updates, and more.
Southern sea otters are listed as a threatened species on the Endangered Species List. These marine mammals play a vital role in maintaining the health of kelp forests, which provide habitats for a variety of animals. Sea otters do this by eating sea urchins, which would otherwise grow out of control and eat the holdfasts of kelp. For that reason, they are known as a keystone species, which means they play an important role in the ecosystem. If a keystone species is removed or suddenly disappears from their ecosystem, then the ecosystem begins to fall apart.