Capture, Care and Transport of Sea Otters
IAAAM 1977
Tag A. Gornall, DVM
Seattle Aquarium, Seattle, WA


Four sea otters (Enhydra lutris) were captured near Cordova, Alaska. A multifilament nylon net with 9-1/2" stretch mesh, 16 mesh deep and 150' long with only a cork-line was anchored at one end and allowed to swing free in a channel near known populations. Capture was by entanglement. The otters were maintained in a floating pen for one week near the site before transport. Transport was in metal pens 9" deep with a net top; 1/2" cube ice 4" deep was used to prevent coat soilage. The diet provided is fish filets, fresh crab, squid, urchins and algae. No vitamin supplements are being used.


During air transport, put a four inch layer of ice in the bottoms of the cages to prevent coat soilage. If they are maintained in water it is important to change it every half hour or so. Azium can be used during transport to help combat stress.

Clostridium immunization is done using 2 cc of the C,D toxoid. Two doses are given, the second being two weeks after the first.

One animal died from a previous bite wound in the abdomen.

If otters are fed 30% of their body weight each day they tend to get fat; 25% of their body weight seems to be an ideal feeding level. This worked out to a total of 12 lbs. of food each per day which consisted of 8-9 lbs. of rockfish fillets, 2-4 lbs of squid and crab and snacks of sea urchins and clams. A diet of rockfish fillets alone would be deficient in minerals so crabs are fed to supply minerals. A vitamin supplement may be necessary, however otters will eat algae if one lets the walls get a bit dirty and this may take the place of a vitamin supplement.

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Tag A. Gornall, DVM

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