An Otter Keeps Stealing Surfboards as Great Ocean Uprising Escalates

animal news Business California NEWS otters The Great Sea Uprising
Two otters look curiously out of their enclosure during their feeding session at Eekholt Wildlife Park


 Two otters look curiously out of their enclosure during their feeding session at Eekholt Wildlife Park.  (Photo by Christian Charisius/picture alliance via Getty Images)

There’s a manhunt underway for a rogue otter who has been stealing people’s surfboards in California—the latest in a growing body of evidence of a sea uprising. 

Known as Otter 841 (the lack of creativity no doubt insulting to the animal), the five-year-old otter has been approaching some surfers in Santa Cruz, climbing on their boards and refusing to give them up, according to videos posted on social media. While 841 has reportedly been doing this for years, her antics have recently gotten more aggressive, prompting authorities to dispatch a crew to capture her. 

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“Due to the increasing public safety risk, a team from C.D.F.W. and the Monterey Bay Aquarium trained in the capture and handling of sea otters has been deployed to attempt to capture and rehome her,” a spokesperson for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement to the New York Times

Mark Woodward, a local photographer who goes by @nativesantacruz, tweeted photos of Otter 841 on a board she’d successfully swindled last week, noting her behaviour was not cute. 

“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,” he tweeted. 

“A catamaran (a type of boat) saw what was happening and got close which caused the otter to get off the board and they were able to get the board. The surfer swam out and retrieved the board which did have bite marks in it,” he continued. 

According to the Times, 841’s behaviour may be influenced by her mother, an orphan otter who was raised in captivity but was fed by humans once back in the wild, motivating her to climb onto kayaks. 

She was captured while pregnant with 841. 

It’s not clear why 841 initially started taking on surfers and other people in the water, but the Monterey Bay Aquarium has said it started receiving reports of her run-ins after she was back in the wild for a year. 

But 841 isn’t the only sea animal who’s displayed aggression towards humans recently. Orcas have been ramming into boats, sinking three of them off the Iberian cost of Europe, including a yacht. Since 2020, more than 400 boats have had “interactions” with killer whales, according to data gathered by the Cruising Association and a group of scientists known as Grupo Trabajo Orca Atlantica. 

While only around 15 toothed whales are doing the bulk of the damage, experts have speculated that they are teaching others their ways. 

Their motives remain unclear, but seeing as humans and unfettered capitalism is ruining the world, perhaps it’s just evolution at work.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/5d9dnx/an-otter-keeps-stealing-surfboards-as-great-ocean-uprising-escalates,

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