Rescue Otter Finds a Home in Monterey

Selka, a "sea otter scientist," is now living at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Sea Otter Exhibit.

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©Pinnipedlab, photo by Ari Fried
Selka, a Southern sea otter, may now be seen (now and then) at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Sea Otter Exhibit.
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©Pinnipedlab, photo by Ari Fried
Selka, a Southern sea otter rescued four years back from Cayucos, may now be seen (now and then) at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Sea Otter Exhibit.
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©Pinnipedlab, photo by Emma Levy
Found alone as a week-old pup, Selka was cared for by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and then released. A shark bite brought the otter back to staffers' care, and after a third return to land, "due to health concerns" and "several interactions with people," the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service "deemed her unreleasable."
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©Pinnipedlab, photo by Sarah McK
After her final return, Selka was moved to the Long Marine Lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She became a "sea otter scientist," assisting researchers as they looked at the "previously unknown sensory and cognitive world of sea otters."
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©Pinnipedlab, photo by Sarah McK
UCSC graduate research student Sarah McKay Strobel sang Selka's praises. "As a key member of our team, Selka helped us collect some of the first data linking sensory abilities to foraging behaviors in sea otters," revealed the researcher. Dr. Colleen Reichmuth cited Selka's "cleverness" and "easygoing and inquisitive nature" as important elements of the otter's character and contributions to the studies.
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©Pinnipedlab, photo by Sarah McK
The otter is now once again at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, after a two-year stint in Santa Cruz. Selka will now become, it is hoped, a surrogate mother to the younger members of the institution's Sea Otter Program. Foster pups frequently find rehabilitation under the care of the aquarium, and its nurturing group of surrogate parents.
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©Pinnipedlab, photo by Mariah Te
Named for the selkies of legend, Selka has had quite the adventuresome life, from weathering a shark bite to serving as a scientific advisor to a team of pinniped researchers. She's now at home at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Sea Otter Exhibit, off and on, depending on the day. If you're there, be sure to stop by and tell this intrepid otter, a marvel of a mammal who has done much to help other sea otters, hello.
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