In Honor of a Remarkable Rescued Otter

She was orphaned and found stranded, wedged in the rocks at the bottom of a cliff south of Carmel in March 1997. Rescued by the Monterey Bay Aquarium sea otter team, she was hand-raised by our staff and volunteers, and paired with other otters to “learn the ropes” before we returned her to the wild that summer.

As with all rescued sea otters, we hoped that Harmonie would survive and become a productive contributor to the recovery of California’s threatened sea otter population. Boy, was she ever!

Harmonie died in January, of infirmities and old age, after 15 in the wild. From her postmortem exam, it was clear that she had indeed successfully integrated back into the wild population.

She had been pregnant 10 times — and at the time of her death showed signs of recent mating. Her first pup, born in 2000, was the first documented birth to a sea otter that we had rescued as a pup and then returned to the wild. There have since been many more. (The photos above show Harmonie with her first-born pup, in Elkhorn Slough near Moss Landing.)

Although  she was grizzled with age, had arthritis and ulcers, and carried a scarred-over pellet from a gun that someone had fired at her along the way, “We were all amazed by her beautiful teeth,” according to her death report.

“I spent several years following Harmonie after she was first released, watching her integrate back into the wild and rearing her first pup,” recalled Michelle Staedler, our sea otter research coordinator. “Once she lost her flipper tags,  I’d always wondered — and had a hunch — that the silver-gray female in the slough was her. I’m happy to know that it was.”

We are saddened by Harmonie’s passing, and so glad that she contributed so much to the wild population.

Notes

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    this made me cry :S
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About me

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, perched on the edge of a world-famous coastline, is your window to the wonders of the ocean. It’s located on historic Cannery Row in Monterey and is open daily except Christmas Day.

For more information about our animals and exhibits, and to view our live web cams, please visit www.montereybayaquarium.org.

Hours of operation vary by season. Daily schedules and tickets are available on our website or by calling
(831) 648-4800.