Splishing and splashing. Diving and tumbling. Eating and napping. These are all things at which sea otters excel.

Due in no small part to their cuteness, sea otters Elfin, Tanu and Katmai are among the most popular animals here at the Aquarium. But did you know each one of them has their own special story?

Sea otter Elfin.

Sea otter Elfin.

Way back in July 2001, a tiny sea otter named Elfin was only a few days old when he was picked up by a fishing crew near Juneau, Alaska. When his mother couldn’t be found, the pup was brought to the Alaska SeaLife Center until a home could be arranged.

When everyone at the Vancouver Aquarium heard Elfin needed a home, we were more than happy to help out. Fast-forward 12 years, and Elfin is now the oldest sea otter living at the Aquarium. As an adult, Elfin eats up to 30 per cent of his body weight each day. That adds up to seven kilograms of fish fillets, crabs, urchins and clams, which means that simply feeding one sea otter works out to be more than $35,000 a year.

In July 2004, a boater off the coast of Sitka, Alaska saw a baby sea otter floating by herself in the open ocean. After watching her for several hours, he realized that her mother wasn’t coming back. The pup, named Tanu, was less than two weeks old.  The boater rescued her and the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue staff flew up to Alaska and brought her here.

Because they don’t have any insulating blubber, sea otters depend on their fur to keep them warm. So Tanu happily spends a generous portion of each day grooming her fur by licking and blowing into it. It takes a lot of “food energy” to maintain a constant body temperature in the cold water, so we need to make sure Tanu eats enough nutritious seafood each day.

Katmai is the newest addition to the Vancouver Aquarium sea otter family. She arrived here in March after being found orphaned by the side of the road in Homer, Alaska.

Before moving here to her permanent home, a rotating team of Aquarium specialists spent more than 2,000 hours to help rehabilitate and care for her. For 17 weeks, the team rotated shifts – flying to and from Alaska to help share their expertise and care for Katmai.

Katmai is now settled into her new home and has made fast friends with poolmate Tanu. Because young sea otters consume up to 35 per cent of their body weight every day, it’s critical Katmai’s metabolic needs are met.

Katmai and Tanu.

Katmai and Tanu.

As a non-profit society, care of our animals is funded by admissions to our galleries and the generous support of our members, donors and sponsors. If you would like to help, please donate today.

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