Georgia Aquarium's Rescued Sea Otters
In 2010, three rescued southern sea otter pups found a new home at Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. Bixby, Cruz and Brighton – named after geographical locations along the central California coast, the natural habitat of the southern sea otter – came to our Cold Water Quest gallery at Georgia Aquarium after being rescued as stranded pups. In May 2010, the sea otter habitat reopened to exhibit all five otters, introducing the public to the three newcomers as well as the Aquarium’s original sea otter inhabitant, Oz.
Sea otters as a whole (Enhydra lutris) are listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) like Oz, Brighton, Bixby and Cruz are currently listed on the U.S. Endangered Species Act as “threatened” and under the Marine Mammal Protection Act as “depleted.” According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the most recent sea otter census showed a continued downward trend in the number of both adults and pups in California. A number of sea otter pup strandings have been associated with shark attacks; in fact, both Bixby and Cruz were orphaned after their mothers were fatally attacked by white sharks.