Surfing sea otter evades capture for another day as crowds visit her in Santa Cruz

Dustin Dorsey Image
Wednesday, July 19, 2023
Surfing sea otter evades capture for another day in Santa Cruz
People from all over fought for their spot along the railing at West Cliff in Santa Cruz to try and get a glimpse of the surfing sea otter.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- The Santa Cruz coastline is always a popular place to be when the weather is warm, but there was an extra buzz Tuesday surrounding the sea otter that's growing in popularity and fame.

People from all over fought for their spot along the railing to try and get a glimpse of the surfing sea otter. It's a fun sight for locals.

"It's so cool to be here and experience that," Santa Cruz resident Courtney Bateman said. "You talk to people that have lived here forever and they don't get to see all this happen. So, it's just such a cool thing to be here right now, experiencing this and having it be national news."

Yes, Otter 841 as she's known, has been quite the attention getter for those surfing the internet, seeing her surfing the waves in the viral pictures.

We spoke with a family from the U.K. surprised to learn their vacation destination is the site of a trending story.

It's almost difficult to believe to see an otter riding a surfboard," Paul Sherwood said. "I kind of believe you, but I need to go and see it for myself. It's fascinating."

"It sounds crazy. Makes you wonder how it's so domesticated I suppose," Gill Sherwood said.

VIDEO: Infamous Santa Cruz sea otter sought by officials after hijacking surfboards

Wildlife officials are now monitoring and attempting to capture an infamous sea otter in Santa Cruz who has a thing for surfers.

That's the exact question that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying to answer.

They had a team out in a boat Tuesday for a short period of time as the otter seemed to evade capture for yet another day.

The sea otter was born in an animal care facility and released into the wild more than a year before interactions with people began last September.

The CDFW says it could take days, even weeks to successfully capture her to study her aggressive, board-biting behavior and be rehomed in a zoo or an aquarium.

MORE: Expert answers key questions about infamous Santa Cruz sea otter stealing surfboards

People who came to see 841 live are split on their thoughts of what should be done with her.

"We cannot take a species out of its natural environment," Santa Cruz resident Jamilah Star said. "Of course, you have to investigate why it's happening but we already know why. So, I'm protesting the capture. I think it's unfair."

"Personally, I do really think they do need to capture her," Bateman said. "I think it's really important for her safety to know what's going on with her health."

Crews say they will remain out here until she is brought in, but they may suspend efforts if the aggressive behavior stops.

Until then, otter watch continues.

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