The Oregon Coast Aquarium (OCAq) is saddened to announce the passing of an injured sea otter that was transported to the Aquarium for assessment and care last week.
The sea otter, identified as an adult male, arrived at OCAq with poor fur quality, limited mobility, and several lacerations and puncture wounds. While the exact cause is unknown, the injuries were consistent with those of a shark bite.
Husbandry and veterinary staff tended to the sea otter’s wounds and treated the animal for infection. Staff monitored the sea otter around the clock, providing him with incrementally larger portions of food to combat emaciation.
While the sea otter was initially alert and accepting food, the status of an injured animal can quickly change. 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 animal will be sent to a United States Fish and Wildlife Service veterinary facility for a complete necropsy.
This sea otter is believed to have been the same individual who was observed near Yaquina Head over the past several weeks. The animal was transported to OCAq after he was reported hauled ashore on Cobble Beach at the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.
“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.
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.