Half Moon Bay Sea Otter Rescued and Rehabilitated

Half Moon Bay

Yankee Doodle, a rescued southern sea otter, has finally recovered enough to return to his home just off of Half Moon Bay. This return follows three months of intensive treatment at The Marine Mammal Center, which is located in Sausalito, California.

The sea otter was exhibiting signs of distress when he was found by responders from The Marine Mammal Center. Yankee Doodle is likely around four years old and showed symptoms of two neurological disorders. He was suffering from domoic acid poisoning, which Center staff believe can be traced back to algae-laced shellfish. His other condition, toxoplasmosis, is a parisitic infection. Toxoplasmosis can often be fatal, so it's good that Yankee Doodle was found when he was.

Although Yankee Doodle was severely underweight and lethargic at first, his three-month treatment at The Marine Mammal Center went, well, swimmingly. Just prior to his release into Half Moon Bay, a tag called the Life History Monitor was surgically implanted into his abdomen. This tag will track the otter's vitals like heart rate and blood pressure. It will also let the Center know how he dies.

During his time in the Center, Yankee Doodle swam with simulated kelp and enjoyed a steady diet of seafood. This enabled him to regain the weight he had lost, as sea otters must eat a quarter of their weight in seafood just to maintain their health.

The coast of California has long been a key habitat for southern sea otters. The species is now endangered, with only a few thousand remaining in the wild. The Marine Mammal Center's rescue efforts are therefore particularly important. Their response efforts cover a range of 600 miles of coast. Because there has been an increase in the need for rehabilitation, the Center has now updated their existing equipment, including holding pens, so that they are even better equipped to handle the situation.