Visitors to Monterey Bay Aquarium in central California were treated to a rare and unexpected sight over the weekend: a pregnant wild sea otter giving birth on a rock in the waters surrounding the facility.
The sea otter took shelter in the aquarium’s Great Tide Pool on Saturday. Video showed her writhing atop a rock as she labored.
“It’s not every day you get to watch a sea otter pup come into the world!” the aquarium wrote on a Facebook post. “Our sea otter researchers have been watching wild otters for years and have never seen a birth close up like this. We’re amazed and awed to have had a chance to witness this Monterey Bay conservation success story first hand in our own backyard.”
In video of the birth, the mama sea otter could be seen grooming the baby immediately after it was born. Such meticulous grooming, the aquarium explained, will keep the baby warm and buoyant.
Get a closer look at the sea otter birth in the YouTube video below. (As the aquarium warned, “Spoiler alert: the miracle of life is graphic!”)
Update, March 9: In a follow-up Facebook post Tuesday, Monterey Bay Aquarium said the sea otter mom and pup had returned to the wild after a three-day stay near the facility.
“Bon voyage, otter family,” the aquarium wrote. “There are busy days ahead as this otter mom teaches her pup how to dive, collect food and other skills needed for life in the wild.”