During our class field trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we learned about the aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation Program (SORAC). I loved spending time with the researchers watching wild otters hang out in the kelp forest in the bay. But what I was really eager to see was the conservation program. I wrote about one of the exhibit otters who spent a few months behind the scenes for my internship at The Salinas Californian and I was hoping to see my famous subject in action.
Rescued otters live in two tanks on the roof of the aquarium. The pool in the foreground is the top of the aquarium’s kelp forest. The rehabbed otters are in the round tank with the fabric shield in the background.
Using my iPod, I captured the sounds of otters opening shellfish. It’s almost as noisy as a cafeteria full of kindergartners.
You can hear Michelle Staedler, research coordinator for SORAC, talking in the background. Here’s what she’s says:
This is east tank and that’s west tank. West tank is the one that had the five otters in it that you guys were looking at. Obviously they’re eating dinner right now.
One thing that’s really funny about rehabbed otters is otters use tools. But otters in rehab use the sides of the tank. A lot of times, when we release them, we’ll see them go up to rocks and we’ll see them pound on the side rather than put them on their bellies. It’s pretty fun to listen to. Or they go up to boats in the harbor and bang on them. *class giggles*
These guys are just too darn cute. If you’re ever at the Monterey Bay aquarium, look for them in the bay and don’t forget your binoculars!