From shark bite survivor to experienced surrogate mother, Selka's one lucky sea otter — and we're fortunate to have her on our team. Thanks to generous donors like you, she now raises orphaned pups that help California's vital coastal habitats.
Selka's a great example of the impact a single otter can have when you support our Sea Otter Program.
We rescued Selka as a one-week-old pup. She was raised behind the scenes in our surrogacy program that pairs our exhibit animals with orphaned pups.
We released Selka as a young adult into Elkhorn Slough (a coastal wetland about 20 miles north of Monterey).
Life in the wild proved very challenging. She came back into our care several times. She was bitten by a shark. She struggled with health issues. People feeding her in the wild ultimately caused her to be deemed non-releasable by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Selka returned to the Aquarium, and we introduced her to her first orphaned pup. Selka showed good maternal behavior such as food sharing, grooming and towing almost immediately.
Selka's a great mother — attentive and devoted to a pup until its weaned. She also has an endearing habit of tidily lining up pieces of food for a pup to pick up and eat.
At only seven years old, Selka has many more years ahead to raise pups that we’ll eventually release to the wild. Our data shows these young animals mature and have their own pups. Sea otters help restore coastal habitats simply through their natural foraging behaviors. Their presence brings balance all the way down the food chain, allowing a thriving and healthy ecosystem to return.
After years of research on wild sea otters, we also recognize the significant impact humans can have on the lives of these iconic marine mammals. Humans interactions, such as feeding wild otters, is dangerous for both people and otters. Surrogate mothers like Selka help teach orphaned pups necessary foraging skills without acclimating them to human care — giving them a better chance at survival when they return to the wild.
With your help, we can continue to nurture animals like Selka and support our sea otter surrogate program that means so much to orphaned pups — and struggling coastal habitats.
Your support will allow us to keep pushing the boundaries of sea otter recovery.