Humanity's best efforts are no match for this tenacious otter.
Surf and Dash
The bane of human surfers cannot be stopped.
The rogue sea otter known as "841" has claimed the waters off Santa Cruz, California as her stomping ground, making headlines for her curious but dangerous habit of stealing surfboards and stylishly hanging ten.
After letting her antics slide last season, this summer, authorities finally decided to do something about it. On July 13, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, vowed, in a joint effort, to capture and rehome 841.
Now, over a week later, the otter has still eluded capture, and game wardens have found themselves at the center of a quixotic saga to apprehend what is rapidly becoming a sort of Moby Dick of surfer-harassing seals.
The Los Angeles Times reports that helicopters, divers, and dragnets have all been deployed to try to catch 841, a comical spectacle that is played out to an amused audience that gladly cheer her on.
"This is her home," one onlooker told LA Times. "They should leave her alone and let her be."
No Otter Choice
Authorities haven't started throwing the kitchen sink yet, but they may soon have to.
On Saturday, they kicked things off with a 200 yard long net, which they tried to goad 841 to swim into with her preferred quarry: surfboards. It didn't work, which several hundred spectators that day can attest to, along with the dramatic presence of a Coast Guard helicopter and two boats.
Recently, their favored tactic has been sending out a surfboard and diver as "bait." An attempt on Monday used a donated, bright colored board — apparently 841's favorite kind — attached to a diver, who then slowly pulled the otter towards a boat once she hopped on board.
But like every attempt before, 841 bailed once she got too close to the boat, where three other wardens lay in wait.
A spokesperson for the US Fish and Wildlife service told the LA Times that it "may take days or weeks given logistical considerations, the sea otter's behavior, and shifting environmental conditions, such as water clarity."
It's not clear what's causing 841's aggressive behavior, but the Fish and Wildlife service has suggested that pregnancy could be one reason why.
"Hormonal surges related to pregnancy have been known to cause aggressive behavior in female southern sea otters," the spokesperson said.
Foiled, blockbuster efforts by authorities have had many wondering if their endeavor is worth it. And top of that, no one wants 841 to be harmed, and some worry that the "bait" tactics used could actually encourage her behavior.
However long this keeps up, officials aren't ready to relent — and at least those on Team Sea Otter can take solace in the fact that euthanizing her is out of the question. So, hooray?
More on sea creatures: Relentless Orca Repeatedly Rams Yacht
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