Oiled Sea Otter

On Saturday February 21, the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) received a young female sea otter contaminated with a thick tarry product. The animal was stabilized at the aquarium overnight and then transferred to the Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center (MWVCRC) for washing and long-term care. Both the MBA and MWVCRC are members of the OWCN and key facilities for the care of oiled sea otters.

The anesthetized oiled sea otter is lying on its back before being washed. Photo: Sharon Toy-Choutka

The anesthetized oiled sea otter is lying on its back before being washed. Photo: Sharon Toy-Choutka

On Sunday (2/22) she was washed. Because otters must be anesthetized for cleaning, they are thoroughly evaluated (including blood tests) before undergoing the procedure. This little female came through the process just fine and was eating well this morning.

Rinsing the oil and soap out of the otter's coat. Photo: Sharon Toy-Choutka

Rinsing the oil and soap out of the otter's coat. Photo: Sharon Toy-Choutka

The product on her coat was so thick it had to be pre-treated with olive oil. This softens the tarry material so it’s easier for soap and warm water to do their job.

Going for her first swim. Photo: Sharon Toy-Choutka

Going for her first swim. Photo: Sharon Toy-Choutka

Earlier today she got her first swim after being cleaned. She is not yet waterproof and can’t stay in water full time because she’ll become hypothermic. As the hairs in her coat are realigned, become waterproof and once again able to trap air for insulation against the cold water, she’ll be able to spend more time in her rehabilitation pool.

Greg Massey, OWCN Asst. Director

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