HomeWorldOrphaned otter survives attack by killer whales, video shows
Orphaned otter survives attack by killer whales, video shows
September 19, 2023
It’s an otter-ly incredible tale of survival.
A Newborn sea otter is on her way to a full recovery after surviving a violent attack by two wild orcas earlier this month in Alaska.
The female pup — who has yet to be named — and her mother were floating in the ocean near Homer, Alaska on Sept. 9 when the killer whales set their sights on the pair, according to the Alaska SeaLife Center.
A chilling video taken aboard a nearby fishing boat shows the whales using their powerful tails to smack the otters from beneath the surface, sending the pup and her mother flying through the air.
The orcas relentlessly pursued the pair, taking turns to kick the otters and push them beneath the surface.
The mother otter refused to dive beneath the surface to escape the attackers — a typical method of survival for the animals — because her pup was only a few hours old.
Ultimately, the whales separated the pair and targeted the mother until she didn’t resurface.
The orcas swam away after their kill, leaving the crying orphaned pup alone to survive its first few hours of life without its mother.
Luckily, an ASLC lab technician and wildlife response team member happened to be aboard the fishing boat and rushed into action to rescue the newborn.
“It wasn’t until the entire event ended, the wild orcas had left the area, and the pup started crying out for its mother that I knew we had to think about the next move,” Natalie Hunter said.
After getting permission from the ASLC, Hunter and her friends — who also had experience with wildlife rescue — pulled the pup from the water and immediately began care.
“Her cries were gurgly, and when we got her out of the water, she was soaked … Her coat wasn’t repelling water and keeping her buoyant like it should have been.”
The group rescued the pup just in time, according to ASLC.
An evaluation showed the baby was fatigued and hungry and was still attached to its umbilical cord — indicating it was only a day old at the most.
She was taken to the ASLC, a public aquarium, research, and wildlife response center in Seward, a city roughly 100 miles south of Anchorage.
The newborn otter’s attack is a unique story for the center, which typically responds to struggling animals without knowing the circumstances that led up to its rescue.
“Very rarely do we know how a wildlife response patient got to the location and the condition it was found in. For most reported cases of an abandoned seal or otter pup, we have the reporter watch for a length of time to see if the mother returns. In this rare case, we know exactly what happened to this newborn pup,” said Jane Belovarac, ASLC Wildlife Response Curator.
The center later discovered that the killer whales were from a pod of transient orcas known to predate on animals.
The orphaned pup is the second admitted to the ASLC in less than a week, the center said.
Another female baby was found five days earlier abandoned on the side of a busy road about half a mile away from the Kenai River.
The likely 3-month-old was dehydrated, malnourished and showed signs of severe stress.
Both otter pups are under constant supervision at ASLC as they work toward their recovery — northern sea otter pups receive constant care and attention from their mothers until around six months of age.