The Oregon Coast Aquarium, in Newport, has launched a fundraising campaign to expand its sea otter holding facilities.
The Aquarium is currently home to three rescued sea otters – Nuka, Oswald and Schuster – who rank among its most popular exhibits. But, with these 3 males, the facility is at capacity. All told, only 13 rehabilitation facilities across the U-S are authorized to accept rescued otters.
Aquarium spokesperson Sally Compton says the need for extra space is urgent since all those facilities are full.
COMPTON: “It would give us the ability to take in additional sea otters for quarantine and treatment. You really have to have a separate area when you’re in-taking new animals in order to have them adjust to the habitat and to see other animals in there. All of our sea otters are rescues.”
Compton says the Aquarium is trying to raise at least $60,000 and will start building the additional tank as soon as they have the money.
COMPTON: “If there were ever a very, very large oil spill off the California or the Washington or Alaska coast – these are where the populations of sea otters currently live – and if a big, unusual mortality event were to occur, it could really put their populations at stake. Having a sea otter holding area, where we can give temporary care and treatment to these animals…it can be very beneficial for the species.”
Otters are extinct in Oregon. There are around 2,000 of them along the Washington coastline.