By KPTV Staff
NEWPORT, Oregon (KPTV) -- The sea otter that was found injured on the Oregon Coast last week has sadly passed away, the Oregon Coast Aquarium said Monday.
The otter - a rarity on the coast - was first spotted at Yaquina Head, just north of Newport. Once word got out, crowds started gathering to watch the otter groom itself and eat purple sea urchin.
Then last Thursday, the aquarium said the otter was being treated for infection and multiple wounds - likely from a shark bite - after a park ranger with the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area found him hauled ashore with limited mobility and poor fur quality.
Aquarium veterinary staff tended to the otter's wounds, treated him for infection, and provided him with incrementally larger portions of food to combat emaciation. The aquarium said the otter was initially alert and accepting food, but his status quickly changed.
Sadly, the sea otter passed away after his third day at the aquarium.
"Rehabilitation of stranded animals can be very challenging, as they are medically compromised when they arrive at our facility," said Director of Husbandry Jim Burke. "Our team put in a great effort with diagnostics, treatment and care, but the underlying conditions were too great to overcome."
A necropsy will be performed at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service veterinary facility.
Sea otter sightings are rare on the Oregon Coast, usually only a few each year. Most of them are solitary males from Washington, and there's a 900-mile gap between the West Coast sea otter populations in Washington and California.
"This otter has given all of us a glimmer as to what it would be like to have sea otters return home to the Oregon coast," said Curator of Marine Mammals Brittany Blades. "He has contributed to the science of understanding and caring for sea otters."
If you see a sea otter in Oregon waters or on Oregon beaches, note its location and report it to the Oregon State Police Tipline at 800-452-7888, the Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-866-767-6114, or the Oregon Coast Aquarium at 541-867-3474.