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Watch a sea otter surprise surfers by climbing aboard

Watch a sea otter surprise surfers by climbing aboard
Posted at 9:35 AM, Jun 23, 2023

Although few interactions occur between humans and otters along the Santa Cruz shoreline, a rare event took place this past Sunday when an otter swam up to several surfboards in the water and took one for a joy ride.

Mark Woodward, whose Twitter handle is @NativeSantaCruz, tweeted images of the event. He wrote, “He was going from board to board and seemed calm and friendly even as he was a few feet from surfers.”

Woodward also posted a video of the unlikely encounter.

Some people voiced their concerns on Twitter about how close the surfer was to the otter. “Yikes,” wrote a commenter. “You are supposed to stay 50 feet away from an otter!”

“True, but the otter wasn’t aware of that and was the one going to the surfers,” Woodward replied. “It’s common for otters to get next [to] surfers, I’ve seen it a lot, but this is the first I’ve seen them get on the boards.”

Whether or not this was the otter’s first time surfing remains up for debate. While about 3,000 sea otters live off California’s southern coast, roughly 70 of them are known to frequent the Santa Cruz area. In September 2022, a 4-year-old female otter, who was born in captivity and is often seen in the area, climbed onto another surfer’s board.

However, no matter how friendly wild animals appear, it’s always smart to remain a safe distance — at least 50 feet — away from them, according Sea Otter Savvy, a educational program established by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other partners. That’s because you don’t know how they’ll react to your presence, and staying away will prevent wild creatures such as otters from growing accustomed to human interactions, which can cause them to become bold and aggressive.

This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Check out Simplemost for additional stories.