A sea otter who may have been bitten by a shark is currently being nursed back to health at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport.
The otter was “hauled ashore” by a park ranger, who notified aquarium staff. The animal was then transported to the aquarium for medical care, according to a news release from Oregon Coast Aquarium.
Sea otters are somewhat of a rare sight along the Oregon coast, the aquarium said, as the animals were hunted to support the fur industry in the 1900s. But during the last several weeks, observers have noticed a lone sea otter “bobbing along the waves” near Yaquina Head — and aquarium staff believe the injured otter brought into their care is the same one, the release said.
Aquarium staff discovered that the otter had “limited mobility, poor fur quality and multiple wounds,” the release said. The otter was also underweight — a typical adult male should weigh between 75 and 85 pounds, but this one was only 64 pounds, the release said.
During the medical exam, staff found lacerations and puncture wounds consistent with those of a shark bite. Some of the wounds were close to the otter’s vertebrae, which could be the cause of his mobility issues, the release said.
The otter is “alert and accepting food” but is still under the close watch of aquarium staff, who are trying to minimize the otter’s contact with humans as much as possible to keep his stress levels low and prepare him for possible future release, the release said.
“The next few days will be critical in his recovery path and we hope to see his odds improve daily, but it is too early to predict this,” said OCAq’s Director of Husbandry Jim Burke. “Our veterinary and rehab staff will do all we can to act quickly to improve his chances of release back into the wild.”
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is in Newport, about 130 miles southwest of Portland.