Another Sea Otter Was Seen Vibing on a Surfboard in Santa Cruz

The large-dog-sized marine creature took over the board of one surfer in Santa Cruz Saturday, but it was far from an adorable affair.

Sea otters are surprisingly massive mammals. Mature adults can weigh as much as 90 lbs — the same heft as a full-grown male German Shepherd. On top of their freakish strength, these endangered sea otters are smart as-fuck; they’re essentially aquatic weasels that are among just a few animals on this planet observed using tools.

Don’t get us wrong: Sea otters are still incredibly cute (especially when they’re holding hands or resting young ones atop their bellies). But they’re still wild animals. And they will act that way, which shouldn’t surprise us.

Over the weekend, such an episode of their untamed nature was on display when a sea otter was photographed aggressively stealing a surfboard from a person in Santa Cruz.

“This may seem cute but it’s not, this sea otter was very aggressive and the surfer actually abandoned his board and swam to shore,” wrote Twitter user Native Santa Cruz — a handle that might sound familiar; we highlighted them multiple times in their fantastic coverage of the historic flooding that affected Santa Cruz earlier this year — sharing a collection of pictures of the marine creature seemingly vibing atop the buoyant, foam-covered plank. 

Native Santa Cruz previously photographed another sea otter last month that confidently jumped onto a surfer’s board. This otter, which hasn’t been confirmed as the same otter photographed on July 8th, appeared calm and inquisitive; the otter showed no aggression and wasn’t considered a threat to humans. 

Anthropomorphism — the human capacity to ascribe human-like qualities to animals, wild or otherwise — can put people in the way of harm. Thankfully, no one was harmed during the prior incident in June.

“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has been keeping a watchful eye on the otter since the incident,” Bay Nature wrote in response to this first incident. “A spokesperson for the agency said that while this sea otter’s behavior hasn’t yet warranted her removal from the wild, they did try to relocate her a little ahead of schedule to her wintering grounds down south, where there are far fewer surfers. That attempt, however, failed — the otter got away.”

This time around seems different. The otter involved in Saturday’s surfboard commandeering apparently took over the board while displaying aggression, sending the surfer to swim away. 

Eventually, help came in the form of a multi-hulled watercraft.

“[A] catamaran saw what was happening and got close which caused the otter to get off the board and they were able to get the board,” reads a second tweet from Native Santa Cruz, the vessel used to coax the otter off the board.

Once the board was retrieved by its owner, who swam out to fetch it, bite marks were noticed on it.

Sea otters are capable of biting down with a force of 80 lbs… basically their body weight. At such a bit of pressure, the exoskeletons of sea urchins break and bivalves splay open.

One Twitter user commenting on the thread shared that there’s allegedly a former employee at Long’s Marine Lab who “lost three fingers to an otter.”

Let this rarely captured kiki with Mother Nature serve as a reminder that all wild animals demand respect from us humans. Observe and admire wildlife from afar. If you are approached by a wild animal, be it out of curiosity or otherwise, don’t provoke it, and remove yourself from the situation as calmly and quickly as possible.

Holding your iPhone while scrolling through Threads or TikTok will surely be harder with a few missing digits.

Feature image: Courtesy of Twitter via [at]NativeSantaCruz

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