Stranded sea otter pups paired with surrogate moms

STORY: A California aquarium is pairing stranded sea otter pups with surrogate moms

Megan Smylie/Sea otter program manager/Aquarium of the Pacific

"That mom is going to teach them all of the behaviors that we cannot teach being people. They need to learn from otters and that is the best way to do it, is to pair it with an adult female. That adult female will start to mimic behaviors that the pup should learn, will help it groom, will help it forage, will help teach it prey manipulation, how to open up shells and anything that they would need to know that humans are unable to teach them."

Each year, about 10 to 15 sea otter pups are stranded along California's coast, often due to storms separating mother and pup

Brett Long/Senior director/Aquarium of the Pacific

"Sea otters are ecosystem engineers and so they're a keystone predator in their near-coastal environment so basically what that means is that they are a critical sort of predator in that system that keeps herbivores like sea urchins in check, so that sea urchins don't overpopulate and take out kelp forests and eel grass beds, as an example."