Monterey Bay Aquarium

Wild Sea Otter Gives Birth at Monterey Bay Aquarium

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A wild Southern Sea Otter mom, seeking shelter from stormy seas, gave birth to her pup in the ‘Great Tide Pool’ at Monterey Bay Aquarium on the afternoon of March 5. Guests and Aquarium staff were fortunate to witness the amazing birth of the wild pup.

Sea Otters can give birth in water or on land. The otter mom starts grooming her pup right away to help it stay warm and buoyant. Besides keeping the pup afloat, grooming also helps get the blood flowing and other internal systems revved up for a career of chomping on invertebrates and keeping near shore ecosystems, like the kelp forests in Monterey Bay, and the eel grass at Elkhorn Slough, healthy.

Monterey Bay’s Sea Otter researchers have been watching wild otters for years and have never seen a birth as close-up like this.

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4_WildSeaOtterPupAtMontereyBayPhoto Credits: Monterey Bay Aquarium

 

 

 

After a three-day stay, the wild Sea Otter mom and her fluffy pup headed out into Monterey Bay. There are busy days ahead as this otter mom will teach her pup how to dive, collect food and other skills needed for life in the wild.

By the time a pup is two months old, it’ll have shed most of its fluffy pup coat and be doing lots of exploring and diving. Soon it will be playing its role as a keystone species, keeping kelp-grazing sea urchins in check.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium's 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. They also rescue, treat and release injured otters; raise and release stranded pups through a surrogate program; and seek homes for Sea Otters that can't return to the wild.

Continue reading "Wild Sea Otter Gives Birth at Monterey Bay Aquarium" »


Rescued Sea Otter ‘Pup 719’ Finds New Home

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A recognized leader in animal care and conservation, Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium recently announced that it has welcomed a 10-week-old orphaned Southern Sea Otter pup (Enhydra lutris nereis) to the aquarium as part of a collaborative partnership with Monterey Bay Aquarium – a leader in ocean conservation, and science and conservation of the threatened marine mammal species.

Now weighing about 11 pounds, the female pup arrived at Shedd on January 27 from Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, where she was estimated to be 4 weeks old. The pup is receiving care behind the scenes in Shedd’s Regenstein Sea Otter Nursery from a team of dedicated animal trainers and veterinarians. She is the third pup from the endangered Southern Sea Otter population to reside at Shedd. Known as “Pup 719” (which refers to the number of otters taken into Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Program since its inception in 1984) she is currently achieving critical milestones in her growth.

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TR16-019Photo Credits: Images 1-11 (Monterey Bay Aquarium/ Tyson Rininger) ; Images 12,13 (Shedd Aquarium/ Brenna Hernandez)

 

 

Pup 719’s stranding is a vivid example of how our changing environment is impacting animal habitats on the west coast. Unusually high ocean temperatures associated with El Niño caused heavy storms in January, which may have been a factor in separating Pup 719 from her mother. Additionally, elevated ocean temperatures can be associated with a reduction in kelp cover, shrinking the habitat available to Sea Otters. The latest National Weather Service status for the current El Niño system ranks it among the three strongest episodes dating back to 1950. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted 2015 as the Earth’s warmest year on record.

“We might be facing record numbers of Southern Sea Otter strandings that may be associated with storms caused by El Niño, our role as stewards and caretakers for these animals is as critical as ever,” said Karl Mayer, animal care coordinator for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Program.

“There are limited options for stranded otters: reuniting with mother in the wild, rearing for release by a surrogate Sea Otter mother like the one of a kind program at Monterey Bay Aquarium or being placed in an AZA accredited zoo or aquarium. If those options are not available, pups may unfortunately have to be humanely euthanized,” said Tim Binder, executive vice president of animal care for Shedd. “Organizations like Monterey Bay Aquarium are doing critical work to try and reunite these species and when there are no other options – Shedd stands at the ready to assist in urgent animal care needs like providing a permanent home for Pup 719.”

As she acclimates to her new surroundings at Shedd, Pup 719 continues to achieve many important milestones which include eating solid foods such as shrimp and clams, foraging for food, grooming on her own and interacting with Shedd’s animal care team.

Continue reading "Rescued Sea Otter ‘Pup 719’ Finds New Home" »


A Little Somethin’ Sweet at Monterey Bay Aquarium

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A wild baby Sea Otter was born December 20th in the Great Tide Pool at Monterey Bay Aquarium!

For several days prior to the birth, a wild female Sea Otter had been using the protected basin of the Aquarium’s Great Tide Pool to rest from the winter storms. The night before her pup was born, just as the Aquarium closed, she was spotted slinking into the pool.

According to Monterey Bay staff, it’s rare for a healthy Sea Otter to visit the pool so frequently. The mystery was solved around 8:30 a.m. on December 20th when Aquarium staff witnessed a new pup resting on the proud new mom’s belly!

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4_10869402_10153755191277482_988889495385402685_oPhoto Credits: Monterey Bay Aquarium

 

Since the event, Aquarium staff, volunteers, and visitors have made their way to watch a conservation success story take place.

Monterey Bay Aquarium will keep the public updated on this new otter family—even though mom may decide to head back out to the wild at any time. Currently though, she’s still grooming her pup and enjoying the comfort of the Great Tide Pool. Check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s web page for further information: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/

Continue reading "A Little Somethin’ Sweet at Monterey Bay Aquarium" »


Tiny Rescued Sea Turtle Arrives at Temporary Home

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A new Loggerhead Sea Turtle hatchling recently splashed into his new temporary home in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Open Sea gallery! The tiny turtle will stay at the aquarium for one to two years, while aquarists carefully rear it to a larger size and prepare it for release back into the ocean.

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores loans rescued turtles to aquariums around the country as a way to share the story of this endangered species, while the youngsters grow large enough for release. When they are ready, the turtles are flown back to North Carolina for release into their native waters.

In the wild, Loggerheads migrate long distances, so they’re particularly vulnerable to accidental capture by commercial fisheries. The turtles can become caught in shrimp trawler nets or entangled in long-lines.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium recently released its third Loggerhead back into the Atlantic, alongside other rescued reptiles from U.S. zoos and aquariums. To stay updated on the journey of the newly released juvenile loggerhead, who has logged nearly 600 miles in just over a week, follow #TravelingTurtle on Twitter and Instagram! And check out Monterey Bay Aquarium's tumblr to learn how aquariums and zoos across the country are working together to help this endangered species: http://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/131508274553/a-turtles-journey-home

Photo and Video Courtesy: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Information about the Sea Turtle Program from North Carolina Aquariums:

Coastal North Carolina is a nesting site for Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta), Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and occasionally Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) and Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) Sea Turtles.

Sea Turtles may live for several decades in the open oceans but their lives are most at risk during the first few minutes after they emerge from the nest. Nests deposited on the beach from May through August usually hatch at night from July through October. Hatchlings scramble quickly out of the nest and toward the ocean in a race for life against predators, disorienting light sources and other obstacles.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) oversees the monitoring of nests and hatchlings through an extensive network of volunteers and institutions, including the North Carolina Aquariums. Sometimes hatchlings are too weak to get to the ocean on their own or are found far from the ocean if they’ve become disoriented. These hatchlings are brought to the Aquariums for a brief period of care prior to being released into the wild. Hatchlings recuperate in a carefully controlled environment, where Aquarists ensure that the animals eat and demonstrate healthy activity such as diving.

Most of these post-crawl hatchlings are released immediately directly into the Gulf Stream offshore. Although detailed movements of juvenile Sea Turtles are not well known, it has been determined that they likely spend their first 15 to 20 years feeding and growing in warmer waters, such as the Gulf Stream, before they reach sexual maturity. It is estimated that one in 1,000 turtles will reach this stage.

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Shedd, Monterey Bay Aquariums to Host Live Online Event with Sea Otter Pup 681

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On Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 12 p.m. CT, Shedd Aquarium and Monterey Bay Aquarium will host a Google Hangout On Air session with the public to share the latest progress and information on rescued Sea Otter Pup 681.

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5C9A0810Photo Credits: Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez ; Video Credits: Shedd Aquarium/Sam Cejtin

Moderated by legendary journalist and aquarium supporter, Bill Kurtis, the live, online event will feature a behind-the-scenes look at the growing Sea Otter pup and first-hand accounts from Shedd and Monterey Bay experts involved in her rescue and continual, round-the-clock care.

Registration for the Google Hangout On Air session can be found at the following: 

Poolside with Sea Otter Pup 681

Linkhttps://plus.google.com/u/0/b/105549743721850303180/events/cspsbn8k5topojj1hfmrh6135s0

Follow the conversation at #puphangout

 

More info and amazing pics, below the fold!

Continue reading "Shedd, Monterey Bay Aquariums to Host Live Online Event with Sea Otter Pup 681" »


Penguin Chick Hatches at Monterey Bay Aquarium

10293611_10152456560452482_4849060020726963791_oThe Monterey Bay Aquarium is proud to announce the recent hatching of an African Black-footed Penguin chick. The chick is now being cared for by its parents, Karoo and Messina, on exhibit.

The young chick, whose gender is unknown, hatched on exhibit the morning of June 4.

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Photo Credit:  Monterey Bay Aquarium

The chick weighed  6.9 ounces (195 grams), more than three times the 2.1 ounces (60 grams) it weighed after hatching – indicating that it’s eating well.

“The parents are doing a great job caring for the chick,” said Aimee Greenebaum, associate curator of aviculture. “We enjoy seeing them be such attentive parents.”

But Greenebaum cautions that despite excellent parental and veterinary care, Black-footed Penguin chicks have a high rate of mortality. 

All of the birds are part of a Species Survival Plan for threatened African Black-footed Penguins. The plan, managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, identified Penguins Karoo and Messina as genetically important to the captive population of this species in the United States, and the aquarium received permission to allow the pair to breed.

This is the fifth chick hatched in the Penguin colony at the aquarium. Of three birds that hatched in January 2011, the two males, Pebble and Tola, survived and are both doing well at Dallas World Aquarium. Maq hatched in August 2013 and is currently on exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The chick will remain with Karoo and Messina for about three weeks or until it starts leaving its nest. At that time, the family will be moved behind the scenes for the chick’s safety; it can’t be left on exhibit because it could accidentally drown or be injured by adult Penguins in the exhibit. It will eventually receive a name, and the chick (and parents) will rejoin the colony on exhibit about three months later. After one to two years, the chick may stay at Monterey Bay Aquarium or move to another accredited zoo or aquarium.

 


Monterey Bay Aquarium Raises Snowy Plovers for Release

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Staff at the Monterey Bay Aquarium are raising three Snowy Plover chicks, an Endangered species. The aquarium's experienced rehabilitators believe these little guys have an excellent chance of being successfully re-released back into the wild. 

Some well-meaning beachgoers brought two tagged chicks to the aquarium for care, thinking that they had been abandoned. Because breeding pairs and nest sites are carefully monitored, it was possible to figure out what nest the chicks had come from and to discover that the father was still caring for his one remaining chick. 

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4 ploverPhoto credit: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Representatives of California State Parks and Point Blue Conservation Science carefully placed a cage over the chick to keep the parent close by until aquarium staff could arrive with the other two chicks. They then placed all three chicks in the enclosure to give the dad a chance to see them.  After ensuring that the male was interested in the chicks, the cage was removed the cage and he began caring for all three once again. 

Unfortunately, the father seems to have changed his mind, and all three chicks are now being raised at the aquarium. Fortunately, they have been rehabilitating Snowy Plover chicks since 2000, with dozens of successful releases. 

See and learn more after the fold.

Continue reading "Monterey Bay Aquarium Raises Snowy Plovers for Release" »


Rescued Sea Otter Pup Comes to Monterey Bay Aquarium

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A rescued male Sea Otter pup recently went on exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The rescue, for now named Otter 649, was stranded in November on Jalama Beach in Santa Barbara County as a three-week-old pup, weighing less than seven pounds (3.2 kg). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared him to be non-releasable, and authorized the aquarium to raise him on exhibit. 

He was admitted into the aquarium's veterinary intensive care unit, where he was well cared for. Now 13 weeks old and weighing 16 pounds (7.25 kg), Otter 649 is robust and healthy. He has a friend, too! His interactions with his otter companion, Gidget, will help the younger otter learn how to socialize with other exhibit animals. 

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4 otterPhoto credit: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Easy to recognize with his smaller size and uniformly black, velvet-like fur, the young rescue will remain on exhibit as long as husbandry staff continue to see positive interactions with Gidget. Like the other Sea Otters on exhibit, Gidget is also a rescue who would not have been able to survive in the wild. The exhibit otters act as companions, mentors, and surrogate mothers for the aquarium's Sea Otter Research and Conservation program. Otter 649 is the first pup that Gidget has mentored.

Eventually, Otter 649 will be transferred to another aquarium accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He will be named at his new home. 

Otter 649 is the sixth pup to go on exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium. He is the 649th stranded otter to be brought into the aquarium's Sea Otter Research and Conservation program since 1984. Learn more about the aquarium's efforts to save this endangered species here.


Sea Otter Mom and Pup Visit Monterey Bay Aquarium

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A wild Sea Otter mom took her pup for a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium! The pair spent the day hanging out in the aquarium's nearby Great Tide Pool, much to the excitement of visitors and staff. 

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Photo credits: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Sea Otters are an Endangered species found along the northern and eastern coasts of the North Pacific Ocean. They were hunted extensively for their warm, soft fur from the mid-1700s through the early 1900s. Now protected, they have rebounded well in some areas. They are considered a 'keystone' species in kelp forest habitats: Sea Otters eat and limit the numbers of sea urchins, which otherwise overgraze and extensively damage kelp forest ecosystems. Kelp forests are home to an amazing diversity of life, and serve as important 'nursery' habitats for young fish. 

The Monterey Bay Aquarium monitors wild Sea Otter populations, conducts important research, and rehabilitates stranded Sea Otter pups for release in the wild. Learn more about their work in Sea Otter conservation here.

And, see a video of the visiting otters here!


Finding Nemos at Monterey Bay Aquarium

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Monterey Bay Aquarium just pointed us to these amazing photos hundreds of baby Clownfish hatching behind the scenes! Details from the Aquarium's Tumblr page below:

“We patiently waited for the eggs to develop as the dad Clownfish took great care of them,” said Raymond Direen, who cared for the brood with fellow aquarist Jenn Anstey. “The dad constantly used his pectoral fins to fan the eggs and keep them clean. After about two weeks, they separated from the father, and morphed into little baby Clownfish."

Here's a guide to finding all your favorite characters from "Finding Nemo" at Monterey Bay Aquarium, including these soon-to-be-displayed babies! 

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