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Monterey Aquarium Visitors Witness Sea Otter Birth

(AP) - Stormy sea conditions likely drove a sea otter to seek shelter and give birth on a rock at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Great Tide Pool.

Aquarium staff and visitors observed the birth of the sea otter pup Saturday afternoon.

Aquarium spokesman Ken Peterson says it's the second time since December that a wild sea otter has used the tide pool as a birthing center.

Once hunted to near extinction, sea otters are rebounding. Peterson said the pup's birth is a sign of the furry sea creature's recovery.

It’s not every day you get to watch a sea otter pup come into the world! But when a pregnant wild otter took shelter in our Great Tide Pool Saturday, we had a unique opportunity to see it happen. Sea otters can give birth in water or on land. You’ll notice that mom starts grooming her pup right away to help it stay warm and buoyant—a well-groomed sea otter pup is so buoyant it’s practically unsinkable! For more video of the birth (spoiler alert: the miracle of life is graphic!) check out our YouTube channel: http://mbayaq.co/1R0v6oD . 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 nearshore ecosystems, like the kelp forests in Monterey Bay, and the eel grass at Elkhorn Slough, healthy.Our sea otter researchers have been watching wild otters for years and have never seen a birth close up like this. We’re amazed and awed to have had a chance to witness this Monterey Bay conservation success story first hand in our own backyard. Welcome to the world, little otter!

Posted by Monterey Bay Aquarium on Sunday, March 6, 2016