Oswald the sea otter pup, whose move to Oregon made a big splash despite his diminutive size last month, is settling in swimmingly at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
“He is a hearty eater and has plenty of personality quirks that keep us busy,” said Curator of Marine Mammals Ken Lytwyn. Oswald frequently squeals with anticipation before training sessions, a behavior the Aquarium’s trainers discourage by waiting until he calms down before they enter his enclosure.
To help make him feel at home, the Aquarium purchased large tubs for him to jump in, just like he had on exhibit in Monterey. They fill the tubs with cold water and toys, or sometimes even ice, which is a preferred lounging surface for sea otters.
Oswald and trainers alike appear to be developing the trust they need to work together successfully. During a photo shoot for this story, Oswald groomed his fur until he dozed off for a snooze in the afternoon sun. Napping while surrounded by humans is not typical for energetic, curious young otters, but Oswald appeared utterly relaxed with his trainers and a photographer in his quarantine area.
That Aquarium’s mammalogists chose the seven month old pup’s name to honor Oswald West. West was the former Oregon governor who signed landmark legislation in 1913 that made all 362 miles of Oregon’s beaches permanently open for public use.
Oswald was discovered orphaned in Santa Barbara County, California in November 2013. He was brought to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation (SORAC) program, where he was called Otter 649 for being the 649th otter to arrive there for rehabilitation. Lacking an available surrogate sea otter mother to coach him how to be a wild otter, he was deemed non-releasable by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Oswald spent a few months in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s exhibit with Gidget, a surrogate mother seat otter in training, before heading to Newport. Once he completes his quarantine period and advances adequately in his training, he will join the raft in the Aquarium’s Sea Otter Exhibit later this summer.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is open every day this summer from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. To learn more about how to support sea otters like Oswald, visit aquarium.org or call 541-867-FISH.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is dedicated to the highest quality aquatic and marine science programs for recreation and education so that the public better understands, cherishes, and conserves the world’s natural marine and coastal resources. An accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums institution, this 501(c)3 non-profit organization is ranked as one of the top 10 aquariums in the U.S. Visit us at 2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Rd., Newport, OR. aquarium.org, (541) 867-3474. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.