Aggressive Sea Otter Menaces Santa Cruz Surfers: Wildlife Officials Take Action

Sea Otter in Santa Cruz Poses Public Safety Risk

Santa Cruz, California – Wildlife officials are working to capture a sea otter that has been exhibiting aggressive behavior towards surfers and kayakers on the coast. The 5-year-old female otter has been wrestling surfboards away from surfers and approaching people in an aggressive manner, raising concerns for public safety. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has deemed the otter a risk and is taking action to address the issue.

Multiple videos and photographs shared on social media show the otter climbing onto surfboards, biting and tearing chunks off the boards, and approaching surfers with a confrontational attitude. The repetitive nature of its behavior has prompted authorities to take action.

A team of wildlife experts from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Monterey Bay Aquarium are collaborating to capture and relocate the otter. The wildlife service urges people to avoid approaching the otter or encouraging its interactions, as there have been no reported injuries caused by the otter so far.

The otter’s aggressive behavior is highly unusual, and the exact cause is still unknown. Once captured, the otter will undergo evaluation by veterinarians at the aquarium.

Federal wildlife officials mention that aggression in female southern sea otters can be linked to hormonal surges or being fed by humans. This particular otter, originally born in captivity and later released into the wild, has shown aggressive behavior towards humans in the past. In 2022, after returning to the Santa Cruz area, the otter was observed with a pup and subsequently displayed similar aggressive behavior.

In September, a successful intervention by California wildlife officials and Monterey Bay Aquarium staff prevented further incidents involving the otter throughout the winter season.

Southern sea otters are listed as federally threatened under the Endangered Species Act and protected by the Marine Mammal Act and California state law.

Efforts are underway to ensure the safety of both wildlife and human encounters along the coast. With the collaboration of experts and organizations, authorities aim to capture and relocate the otter to mitigate any potential risks. These proactive measures will serve to protect the public while ensuring the welfare and conservation of this species.