Visitors at the Monterey Bay Aquarium got an adorable surprise this week when a wild sea otter gave birth in one of their tide pools! The large female had been using the natural rock cove as a refuge from recent winter storms, but because it's rare to see a sea otter in the pool so frequently, staff were begining to worry she was sick. However, all was revealed on Monday morning when the pup appeared on mom's belly, getting fuzzier by the second.
"In steady waves, Aquarium staff, volunteers, and then the days’ visitors made their way to the back deck to watch a conservation success story taking place," the team writes on their blog. "Not that long ago, sea otters were hunted to near extinction. Maybe 50 were left in all of California by the early 1800’s. But now, thanks to legislative protection and a change of heart toward these furriest of sea creatures, the otter population has rebounded to steady levels in Monterey Bay."
Sea otters have the densest fur in the animal kingdom with an estimated 850,000-1,000,000 hairs per square inch. In fact, a recent study found that if you were to flatten every hair on a sea otter's body, together they'd cover a hockey rink. This little guy or gal hasn't developed any oily outer fur just yet, so mom will keep the youngster warm over the coming weeks.
The pair could depart any day, but for now, they seem to be enjoying their temporary home. We'll be updating you as photos and videos come in, so watch this space!