NEWPORT, Ore. – Oregon’s newest sea otter pup was introduced to his family at the Oregon Coast Aquarium Tuesday and according to staff, he made a big splash.
Nuka is the newest addition to the aquarium’s all-male raft (group) of sea otters and has been living in isolation since he arrived in February.
The wild sea otters were hunted to extinction on the Oregon coast over 100 years ago, with only small colonies still in existence in California and Washington.
So baby Nuka was welcomed with open arms at Newport, after he was found orphaned in Kodiak Alaska last June.
Nuka spent a short time at an Alaska aquarium before arriving at the Oregon aquarium this winter. Since then he’s been in quarantine and going through the slow process of introduction to the resident otters, Judge, 14, Schuster, 2 and MoJo, 4.
“He could sniff them through a gate, but they were never able to interact.” said aquarium spokeswoman Erin Paxton. Tuesday Nuka got his first chance to play with his new family and Paxton said he took to them like a fish to water. “Oh my gosh, were they energetic!”
The old-timers seemed to appreciate the newbie and everything went swimmingly, according to Paxton.
“As soon as he noticed Nuka, Schuster made a beeline line for the pup,” Paxton said. “The two young otters thrashed and splashed around the pool so that the water looked white-capped.”
Nuka is now a permanent part of the aquarium.
Visitors can see his antics and training from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the spring, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. starting Memorial Day weekend.
You can also watch him live on the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s Aquari-cam.