A bothersome female sea otter in Santa Cruz, California has gained a reputation for bothering surfers and taking their surfboards. The situation has become so serious that a team from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Monterey Bay Aquarium are now searching for the otter, named Otter 841, to catch it and find it a new home.
This is a risky situation because California sea otters are endangered, and their numbers have decreased as humans moved into their habitat along the central coast of the state.
Otter 841’s mother was raised in captivity after being orphaned, but when she was released, people started feeding her. This caused her to climb onto kayaks. A local wildlife vet center took her in and discovered that she was pregnant. She later gave birth to Otter 841, who was eventually moved to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The trouble began when 841 lost its fear of humans. Since then, surfers have reported leaving their surfboards behind when the troublesome sea otter climbs on them and tears them apart with its strong jaw. Sea otters may look cute, but they can easily crush clams and potentially harm your fingers too.
“After one year of being in the wild without issue, we started receiving reports of her interactions with surfers, kayakers and paddle boarders,” Monterey Bay Aquarium sea otter program manager Jessica Fujii told the NYT.
“We do not know why this started,” she added. “We have no evidence that she was fed. But it has persisted in the summers for the last couple of years.”
At least surfers get to witness an impressive sight after giving up their boards. It turns out that Otter 841 is an excellent surfer.
“The otter was shredding, caught a couple of nice waves,” one surfer told the NYT.