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On Feb. 5, onlookers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, were surprised by an unusual sight. A fatigued pregnant wild sea otter mom entered the aquarium’s Great Tide Pool to birth her pup.
Fortunately, staffers caught the amazing event on camera. The 30-second video was posted on Youtube the day after. The aquarium warned in a Facebook post that the stunning clip showing the “miracle of life” may contain graphic imagery.
According to aquarium officials, the pregnant animal landed in the Great Tide Pool after seeking shelter from a coastal storm. Yet, this is not the first time such event occurs at the aquarium. In December, another female sea otter gave birth in the exact section.
But this month’s incident was special. The company said that its experts in sea otters have been keeping an eye on the wild animals for years, but none of them was able to witness a birth so up close.
According to a Facebook post, the aquarium expressed their gratitude for the unique chance to be witnessing a “conservation success story” in their “own backyard.” The shot clip shows the female otter on a rock struggling to deliver its baby.
Warning: there are graphic images of the pup coming inch by inch:
In the end the mother grabs the pup and pulls it out. Next, it starts grooming the baby carefully. Perfectly groomed sea otter pups become so buoyant that it is impossible for them to sink, the aquarium explained.
Nevertheless, grooming also help keep the baby warm during the first minutes of life since its mother gets the young animal’s blood flowing. Experts explained that sea otters are not equipped with a layer of blubber to prevent them from freezing, Instead they have the densest fur out there which provides them with impressive insulation.
Grooming also helps other body parts of the pup to get ready for feeding. Wild sea otters usually feed on invertebrates including mussels, clams, crabs, snails, and urchins. Conservationists said that the furry animals are crucial to coastal ecosystems because they feed on animals that would otherwise wipe out coastal kelp forests.
And keeping kelp forests alive has a huge benefit because the plants capture huge amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide which is mainly responsible for the greenhouse gas effect.
Luckily for us, Monterey Bay area otters, which neared extinction in recent years, have recently started to rebound.
Image Source: Flickr