Enjoy the antics of our playful southern sea otters as they romp, tumble and wrestle like they do in the wild. On the second floor of the exhibit you can watch them swim at the surface, while first-floor windows give an underwater view of their lively acrobatics.
You're watching video highlights of daily activity in this exhibit.
Meet Our Sea Otters
Our spirited sea otters came to us as rescued animals and are no longer able to survive in the wild. Most of our animals are occasionally off exhibit, acting as companions or mentors to other stranded otters as part of our Sea Otter Program.
Abby was rescued as a newborn in July 2007 by the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Rescue Center and raised at SeaWorld San Diego, where she became a popular exhibit otter. She was transferred to the Aquarium in June 2012 to join the sea otter exhibit and became a surrogate mother to her first pup, Sina, in January 2013.
To spot Abby, look for the all-brown otter sticking out her tongue! She likes playing with artificial kelp, taking ice baths and eating frozen treats. She also grew attached to towels as a young pup. Abby can frequently be seen waiting at the back door before feeding sessions.
Ivy was found stranded in November 2011 on Cayucos State Beach in San Luis Obispo County as a two-week-old pup. She was cared for by Sea Otter Program staff for seven weeks, and then introduced to Toola—the Aquarium's most experienced surrogate mother at the time. After a number of factors interfered with her timely release, Ivy was declared non-releasable by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Ivy formally joined the sea otter exhibit in December 2012 at just over one year old and is now a surrogate mother to pups behind the scenes. She's one of the younger otters on exhibit, earning the nickname "wild child" by Aquarium staff because of her liveliness during training. Ivy is named after a character in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.
Kit was found stranded in Morro Bay Harbor in January 2010 at five weeks old. A California Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist rescued her and, based on authorization from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, she was not released to the wild. In 2010 Kit became the youngest sea otter pup ever to go on exhibit at the Aquarium—just 11 weeks old—learning critical otter skills like cracking clams and eating live crab without getting bit! In June 2012 she was transferred to SeaWorld San Diego where she continued to mature and learn how to socialize with other exhibit animals.
In January 2013, at three years old, Kit returned to the Aquarium to become a surrogate mother and mentor to pups behind the scenes. The chocolate-brown otter, named after a character in John Steinbeck's The Wayward Bus, is one of our biggest otters and weighs about 50 pounds.
Rosa's our oldest sea otter. She was found stranded between Sunset and Manresa State Beaches in southern Santa Cruz County in September 1999, only about four weeks old and weighing just over five pounds. In April 2000 she was released back to the wild where she spent nearly two years until she began interacting with divers and climbing onto kayaks. Because of the potential risks to herself and people, federal wildlife officials declared her non-releasable.
Rosa joined the sea otter exhibit in June 2002. During her years at the Aquarium she's put her maternal instincts to work—she's reared more pups than any other active surrogate mother on exhibit. She's one of our larger otters, and you can also identify her by the silvered-colored fur on her head and white freckles. After a feeding, you can often see her resting on the water's surface at the center window. She gets her name from a character in John Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat—the first of the author's novels set on Cannery Row.
SelkaSelka was found stranded in July of 2012 off Cayucos, California as a one-week-old pup. She was cared for at the Aquarium and released into the wild in June 2013. Unfortunately, eight weeks after release, she was found hauled out on Moss Landing Harbor with severe shark bite injuries. She underwent extensive surgery and recovery back at the Aquarium, and splashed back into the wild four months later. After several months in the wild, Selka was brought back to the Aquarium due to concerns about her health and several interactions with people. She was declared non-releasable by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Selka spent the next two years at Long Marine Lab, where she helped researchers understand how wild sea otters search for and acquire enough prey to survive in their ocean home.
Selka joined our exhibit in August of 2016. She is clever with an easy-going and inquisitive nature. Selka is our youngest otter and also has the darkest fur of any of the otters on exhibit. She may go on and off exhibit as she settles into her new home and she's already proven herself to be a successful surrogate mother.
Saving Sea OttersOur Sea Otter Program has been studying the threatened southern sea otter since 1984 with the aim of understanding threats to the population and promoting its recovery. We rescue, treat and release injured otters; raise and release stranded pups through our surrogate program; seek homes for sea otters that can't return to the wild; and conduct scientific research.
Learn more about our Sea Otter Program
- Sea otters have the world's densest fur—up to a million hairs per square inch! (You have 100,000 hairs or less on your whole head.)
- Sea otters live in loose-knit groups called rafts. Otters in rafts often sleep side-by-side, wrapped in strands of kelp so that they don't drift far from each other.
- Training and "enrichment" games keep our otters mentally and physically stimulated; they also make working with the otters safer for us and less stressful for them.