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If You See A
Sea Otter In Distress

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What You Need To Do

If you see a sea otter that you believe is in distress:

1. Stay back
2. Keep people and pets away
3. Call the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604-258-SEAL (7325). After hours, call our emergency line at 604-862-1647

Understanding The Situation

It's very important to contact an experienced marine mammal rescue organization before taking any action. Sea otters belong to the same family as wolverines and, like them, can be very aggressive. They should not be approached by anyone who hasn't been trained handling them.

If you spot a sea otter which you believe is in distress, please contact the Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604-258-SEAL (7325). If you're outside British Columbia, contact your local animal rescue organization for assistance.

 

Is It Really A Sea Otter?

River otters are often mistaken for sea otters. It's important to know which species you're observing in order to know whether they' re behaving normally or need help.

  • Sea otters are found only in the Pacific Ocean and are rarely seen on land. River otters swim in rivers, streams and the ocean, and often come on shore.
  • A sea otter's tail appears much shorter (approximately 1/3 the length of its head and body) than a river otter's (roughly 2/3 the length of its head and body).
  • Sea otters have paddle-shaped hind limbs. River otters' are webbed.
  • Sea otters spend a lot of their time floating on their backs—they rest, groom and eat in this position. River otters do not.
  • Sea otters are commonly seen in groups of fifty to several hundred, while river otters rarely occur in groups larger than a single family (may include three to four young).
  • Sea otters usually have a single pup, born in the water. River otter pups (three to four in number) are born on land.

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Sea Otter vs River Otter

Call the Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604-258-SEAL (7325) with the details, and we will instruct you on how best to proceed. If you're outside British Columbia, call your local animal rescue organization.

 
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