For the second time in just a few months, a wild sea otter has willingly traveled to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in order to give birth.
Both pregnant females journeyed to the aquarium’s Great Tide Pool to have their pups, which by all accounts are doing well.
Marine mammal experts suspect that stormy seas prompted both moms to make the journey, given that the Great Tide Pool is sheltered and offers big rocks for resting.
There was a big rainstorm in the region in December, when the first wild sea otter mom swam to the aquarium. Yet another welcome storm during the California drought has been traveling through the area this week.
The entire wild sea otter birth was captured up close by the aquarium’s “Periscope” camera:
The “sleeping fur ball,” as aquarium staff members have referred to the latest pup, was still at the pool on Sunday, when hundreds of visitors gathered quietly inside the aquarium to watch it and its relieved-looking mother.
This has been a remarkable time for marine mammal viewing at the site. Even a gray whale swam nearby, flipping its tail up right in front of aquarium goers as it went to the back of a kelp forest.
Regarding the birth, the aquarium posted at its Facebook page: “Sea otters can give birth in water or on land. You’ll notice that mom starts grooming her pup right away to help it stay warm and buoyant — a well-groomed sea otter pup is so buoyant it’s practically unsinkable!”
The post continued, “Besides keeping the pup afloat, grooming also helps get the blood flowing and other internal systems revved up for a career of chomping on invertebrates and keeping near shore ecosystems, like the kelp forests in Monterey Bay, and the eel grass at Elkhorn Slough, healthy.”
Sea otters are listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, so the births provide hope that the marine mammal’s populations are on the rise.