CHICAGO (WCMH)–An orphaned sea otter pup has been growing stronger every day since arriving at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago last month.
“Pup 719” is the only name she is known by so far. She was rescued off the coast of California on January 6, according to the aquarium.
The aquarium describes her rescue on their website:
Unusually warm Pacific Ocean temperatures associated with El Niño caused severe storms with rough seas along the California coast in January, which may have been a factor in Pup 719’s stranding. Her rescuers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Program suspect she was separated from her mother by high waves that swept her away and washed her ashore.
On Jan. 6, when the pup was found on a beach in Carmel, California, a Monterey Bay Aquarium sea otter expert walked up and down the shore with the agitated but otherwise healthy little otter cradled in his arms, scanning the crashing waves for any distressed adult otters that might be her mother. If mom were in the vicinity, she would recognize her pup’s piercing cries and possibly swim to shore to retrieve her. But no otters responded, and the pup, too young to survive on her own, was taken to Monterey Bay Aquarium and admitted for care as “719,” the 719th rescue in the aquarium’s otter program.
The pup might have been paired with one of the aquarium’s adult female otters in a unique technique that employs surrogate mothers to raise stranded pups for release back into the wild. Because a surrogate was not available, the next option was to find a qualified permanent home for 719. That was Shedd, and Pup 719 became the third rescued southern sea otter pup we have taken in from Monterey Bay Aquarium. What she is teaching us about her subspecies can help inform management decisions for protecting her counterparts in the wild.