Marine Mammal Center releases rehabilitated southern sea otter

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (KGO) -- The Marine Mammal Center has released a rehabilitated southern sea otter back to the wild in Half Moon Bay. Yankee Doodle was rescued by the Center in July and treated for toxoplasmosis and domoic acid toxicity.

Yankee Doodle is the second otter rehabilitated and released in a month's span since the Center announced plans increase its overall capacity to rehabilitate southern sea otters that are sick or injured along California's Central Coast.

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Once the gate came up on the beach next to Pillar Point Harbor, Yankee Doodle slowly walked out, took a look around and then quickly made his way to the water. He then dipped under, popped up and looked toward the shore.

Yankee Doodle was given his patriotic name after he was found around the July 4 holiday at nearby Mavericks Beach. The southern sea otter was spotted rubbing his belly rather than playing amongst the kelp. He was taken to the Marine Mammal Center where he was diagnosed with toxoplasmosis and domoic acid toxicity. About 3 and a half months of rehab later, Yankee Doodle was feeling dandy enough for the wild.

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"It's such a relief to see him get back out into the wild out here. When we rescued him right down the road from here he was in such poor condition and to see him all healthy again and go out and act like a normal, healthy otter was just so exciting for us," said Shawn Johnson, Marine Mammal Center.

Two trackers are inside Yankee Doodle's belly. One is a radio transmitter so they can track him, the other a life history tag, so they can learn about his adventures after he's gone.

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