Science & Environment

Surfboard-Stealing Sea Otter Wanted By Authorities

A California sea otter with a penchant for snatching surfboards is on the lam after wildlife officers decided she’s placing herself and people in danger.

She’s referred to as Otter 841. The now-5-year-old feminine started approaching surfers, kayakers and paddleboarders off the coast of Santa Cruz in 2021. Since then, she’s develop into bolder.

The otter along with her ill-gotten loot off the coast of California.

Mark Woodward / Native Santa Cruz

In a video taken last year, 841 could be seen climbing atop a surfboard within the water, then lunging at and chasing the surfer when he tries to get his board again. She additionally ripped a few chunks out of the board.

Last weekend, 841 was seen stealing surfboards three totally different occasions, The New York Times reported.

On Monday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife introduced {that a} group of consultants would try “to capture and rehome” the otter, per the Times.

“A team from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Monterey Bay Aquarium are actively monitoring her and will continue to attempt capture when conditions are favorable in the coming days,” USFWS spokesperson Ashley McConnell instructed HuffPost in an e-mail, including that the animal “is tagged with a radio transmitter.”

Though 841′s “repeated aggressive behavior” signifies that she can be positioned in captivity, McConnell famous that USFWS is just not taking a look at killing the otter as an choice.

“I wish to emphasize euthanasia is not into consideration,” she wrote.

The otter's days of riding the open waves may be numbered.
The otter’s days of using the open waves could also be numbered.

Mark Woodward / Native Santa Cruz

How 841 picked up her thievery is unclear. “Hormonal surges” in feminine otters can result in aggression, as can individuals feeding them, based on USFWS.

“We don’t know the cause of her behavior. … It’s potentially something we may never know,” Monterey Bay Aquarium spokesperson Kevin Connor instructed HuffPost. “But what we do know is that behavior is not good for her. It’s not good for her survival in the wild.”

Connor understands why 841 has gained so many fans on social media. The concept of an otter stealing surfboards is “genuinely funny,” he stated, however “it’s not going to be fun or entertaining if this escalates further.”

The otter goes after a surfer in Santa Cruz.
The otter goes after a surfer in Santa Cruz.

Mark Woodward / Native Santa Cruz

841′s mom had her personal share of human hassle. That otter, referred to as 723, was a rescued orphan rehabilitated on the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Staff members go to nice lengths to make sure that otters being ready for launch don’t affiliate “anything positive” with people, Connor stated. Caretakers put on black ponchos to cover their human type and keep away from talking across the creatures in order that they don’t get used to individuals’s voices.

723 was again within the wild for a couple of 12 months earlier than she started approaching kayakers and others, soliciting food. There was “clear evidence” that individuals had been feeding her, Connor stated, and officers decided she had misplaced her worry of people and can be higher off dwelling in captivity.

It turned out she was pregnant ― with 841. After 841 was weaned, she was ready for and launched to the wild. But like her mom, she started approaching people after round a 12 months.

A surfboard with 841's teeth marks.
A surfboard with 841’s tooth marks.

Mark Woodward / Native Santa Cruz

Both conditions exhibit the significance of giving area to wildlife. People ought to by no means feed wild otters and will maintain a secure distance, based on USFWS. On its web site, the agency states that “if a sea otter notices you, you are likely too close and should back away.”

Respecting otters isn’t simply concerning the well-being of the furry mammals themselves, but in addition the essential position they play within the atmosphere.

“They help keep the ocean and coastal ecosystems healthy and functioning,” Connor stated. “They’re top predators. They’re the top of the food chain when they’re in their kelp forest or in an estuary. They balance those habitats.”

If 841 is captured, she’ll first endure a health verify on the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and can finally be positioned at an Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited aquarium or zoo.

As for her mom, she currently resides on the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California.

“Her name’s Millie now,” Connor stated. “Living her best life.”

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