Injured sea otter

An injured sea otter that hauled ashore on Cobble Beach at the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is now under assessment and care at the Oregon Coast Aquarium (OCAq).

The sea otter was observed hauled ashore on Tuesday, Nov. 30, by Chief Park Ranger Jay Moeller who then alerted Oregon Coast Aquarium staff. After receiving authorization from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, OCAq staff coordinated with Jim Rice of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network to retrieve the animal and transport it to the aquarium for triage and immediate care.

During an initial assessment the sea otter was identified to be an adult male. Staff noted he was emaciated, with limited mobility and poor fur quality. It was determined the sea otter sustained lacerations and puncture wounds prior to hauling ashore. While the exact cause is unknown, the injuries are consistent with those of a shark bite. The sea otter is being treated for infection, and husbandry and veterinary staff will continue to monitor the animal.

While he is alert and accepting food, his prognosis remains guarded. OCAq staff are limiting human interaction as much as possible in order to mitigate any stress to the sea otter and potentially prepare him for release.

“The next few days will be critical in his recovery path and we hope to see his odds improve daily, but it is too early to predict this,” said OCAq’s Director of Husbandry Jim Burke. “Our veterinary and rehab staff will do all we can to act quickly to improve his chances of release back into the wild.”

This sea otter is believed to be the same individual who has been observed near Yaquina Head over the past several weeks.

“This sea otter means a lot to many of us Oregonians,” said OCAq’s Curator of Marine Mammals Brittany Blades. “I never thought I would get to see a live sea otter living on the Oregon Coast until 3 weeks ago when I saw this otter swimming, foraging and sleeping around Yaquina Head.”

While there is no established sea otter 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.

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