A wild California sea otter has captured the imagination of millions on the Internet as it was filmed floating in the water while hugging its one-day-old pup.
The mother sea otter had found its way into the “Great Tide Pool” at the Monterey Bay Aquarium looking for refuge as it was to give birth, which it did on December 20. On December 21, the mother floated on its back in the water while hugging the supine pup on top of it, stroking its hair and cuddling it. The aquarium’s Otter Cam videotaped the sequence, showing the two-pound pup in bliss.
The mother otter and its pup can return to the ocean if they decide to do so because they are wild; they will not be tagged, according to NBC News. Pregnant sea otters have found their way into the aquarium before; the last time it happened was two years ago.
All sea otters at the aquarium have been rescued because they were endangered in the wild. The aquarium’s site states: “The California sea otter population in 2015 has reached its highest level since fur traders hunted otters to near-extinction in the 19th century.”