“Ollie the Otter” Visits Crystal Cove!
If you visit the park this month, keep your eyes on the water. Last month, Crystal Cove was visited by a very unusual guest: a Southern sea otter, dubbed “Ollie the Otter” by keen-eyed CCA staff, who was spotted munching on lobsters and octopuses along the shoreline south of the Historic District.
Crystal Cove is well outside the current range of the Southern sea otter, which is federally endangered. However, before they were hunted for the fur trade in the 19th century, sea otters were once abundant from the Pacific Northwest all the way down to Baja California. Thanks to conservation efforts, Southern sea otters now range from San Mateo County to Point Conception, and have a population of about 3,000 individuals.
Some scientists believe that the sea otter populations up north have reached their maximum capacity in their current range due to limited food availability, so our visiting otter could have ended up this far south to take advantage of the food sources here. Since Crystal Cove’s waters are designated as a State Marine Conservation Area and fishing is regulated, there are plenty of invertebrates for otters to snack on.
Ollie just might be the first of many sea otters to come to Crystal Cove. Let’s hope he decides to stay and that many more follow!