An injured sea otter that hauled ashore on Cobble Beach at the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area and has been being cared for by the staff at the Oregon Coast Aquarium (OCAq) has succumbed to his injuries. While the sea otter was initially alert and accepting food, the status of an injured animal can quickly change, and his injuries ultimately proved fatal. The sea otter passed away after his third day at OCAq.
“Rehabilitation of stranded animals can be very challenging, as they are medically compromised when they arrive at our facility,” said OCAq’s Director of Husbandry Jim Burke. “Our team put in a great effort with diagnostics, treatment and care, but the underlying conditions were too great to overcome.” The sea otter will be sent to a United States Fish and Wildlife Service veterinary facility for a complete necropsy.
“This otter has given all of us a glimmer as to what it would be like to have sea otters return home to the Oregon coast,” said OCAq’s Curator of Marine Mammals Brittany Blades. “He has contributed to the science of understanding and caring for sea otters.” OCAq is committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of indigenous wildlife. The Aquarium will continue these efforts to save endangered species, with the hope that even one saved animal can help species recovery.
The Aquarium is one of three wildlife rehabilitation facilities in the Pacific Northwest, and the only one in Oregon, authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide specialized care to endangered marine life, including sea otters. To accommodate increased marine life rescue and improve conditions for ongoing care and rehabilitation, the Aquarium plans to build a Marine Rehabilitation Center for animal husbandry and veterinary staff to provide critical care to injured or stranded marine wildlife.
Sea otters were extirpated from Oregon in the early 1900s, as they were hunted to support the fur industry. While there is no longer an established population off the Oregon coast, individuals from Washington populations have been spotted in Oregon waters. These individuals are typically males traveling along the coast in search of potential mates.
If you see a sea otter in Oregon waters or on Oregon beaches, note its location and report it to the Oregon State Police Tipline at 800-452-7888, the Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-866-767-6114, or the Oregon Coast Aquarium at 541-867-3474.