Sea Otter Rescue & Care
SORAC works with other aquariums and wildlife rescue facilities to respond to every sea otter that comes ashore in distress along the California coast. We rescue and care for sea otters that wouldn’t survive without our help.
Our goal is to return these sea otters to the wild. When we receive a report of a stranded sea otter, we go to the scene and determine whether the otter needs help. If necessary, we capture and transport it to the Aquarium for care. Although we handle sea otters of all ages, a significant number of the rescued animals are pups that have become separated from or been abandoned by their mothers.
Over the past 25 years, over 600 sea otters—adults and pups—have come through the SORAC program, and the Aquarium’s staff and veterinarians have developed diets and care protocols that have resulted in a high survival rate. Until the Aquarium began caring for stranded sea otter pups in 1984, no one knew how to keep pups alive once they became separated from their mothers
In recent years, stranded pups rescued by SORAC staff have been introduced to one of two exhibit sea otters—Abby or Rosa—who rotate duties as surrogate mothers behind the scenes. SORAC staff monitor young animals once they’re released, and may recapture those that aren’t foraging or navigating well. Recaptured animals return to the Aquarium to rest and gain weight in preparation for re-release. It sometimes takes three or four releases before the young sea otters adapt to life in the wild.
We Share What We Know
We have a responsibility to share our veterinary and husbandry expertise with other zoos and aquariums. To improve the health and longevity of sea otters in captivity and during field research, we host and train veterinarians and caregivers from other facilities, work to improve standards for sea otter veterinary care and medicine, and offer support and assistance with sea otter care and research activities whenever we can.
SORAC is a recognized leader in management programs for sea otters in zoos and aquariums. We coordinate a network of institutions that house sea otters or have an interest in sea otter conservation. This network is crucial for improving programs related to general care, veterinary science, cooperative research and conservation.