A First: Sea Otter born in Captivity after Conception in the Wild

A First: Sea Otter born in Captivity after Conception in the Wild

Researchers at the University of California Santa Cruz have claimed that a sea otter conceived in the wild has been born in captivity for the first time ever.

A university spokesman said the birth took place on November 26 at UC Santa Cruz's Long Marine Laboratory, but it was ensured that the news did not disseminate widely to prevent the species from excessive exposure to people.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium said a rescue team had saved the life of the pup's mother, Clara, and it was later determined that she had become too accustomed to survive on her own.

Researchers at UC Santa Cruz are currently studying Clara's caloric needs as she nurses. They have limited the human interaction with the pup. The researchers have said that other moms become skinny, weak and prone to infection and disease as a direct result of nursing their pups.

The condition is known as end-lactation syndrome and in simple words could be explained as a weakened physiological and immune state in sea otter mothers because of recently having weaned a pup.

Otters have been provided federal protection and are listed as a threatened species. The numbers of otters off the California coast have jumped to 3,000, which is very close to the figure required to remove them from the list of threatened species.

Nicole Thometz, UCSC postdoctoral researcher, said otters once thrived along coasts from Baja, Mexico, through Alaska, all the way to Japan. But, their population is now limited from Santa Barbara to Pigeon Point. Expansion is required for the population to grow.

"I think everybody is wondering what's going on with these females and it seems to be a stalling point and the key to the expansion of the range", said UCSC researcher Terrie Williams.