Heart Warming Wild Otter Baby Born at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Krystian-Science-Nature-LogoThis baby otter is so cute it will melt your face off. Seriously. The Monterey Bay Aquarium received a big holiday surprise after a pregnant wild sea otter swam into its tide pool and gave birth to the cutest little pup!

Sea Otter Baby - Monterey Bay Aquarium
Sea Otter gives birth to newborn pup in Monterey Bay Aquarium Tide Pool. Photo: Tyson V. Rininger, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Apparently the mom was chilling in and around the Aquarium’s Great Tide Pool for a few days, which isn’t common for healthy otters. She had some of the Aquarium staff concerned by her behavior until she popped out a baby. 😍

The Aquarium considers the otter’s birth to be a conservation success story. Otters were once hunted to near extinction – with just 50 left in all of California by the early 1800’s. But, after legislative protection and a soft spot in the heart of people everywhere for the furry guys, the otter population has rebounded to steady levels – with 3,000 in central California alone.

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Sea otters don’t have blubber to keep them warm in the cold water. They have a super thick fur coat instead, which they keep full of air bubbles while grooming for insulation. In the wild, sea otter moms spend a lot of time grooming their babies to keep them warm and buoyant.

Fun Fact: Sea otters have 1 million hairs per square inch—more than any other animal.

 

Heart Warming Wild Otter Baby Born at Monterey Bay Aquarium

This Cute Pac-Man Ghost Octopus Needs a Name: Scientist Suggests ‘Adorabilis’

KS_LOGOs2_UnderwaterThis adorable seven-inch, deep sea octopus is a species rarely seen by humans. In fact, very little is known about the life history of these animals. They are small, fragile, and gelatinous, with relatively large eyes. The funny thing is they don’t have a name yet!

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(Left) Pac-Man Ghosts, (Center) flapjack octopus, (Right) Pearl from Finding Nemo

Stephanie Bush, a postdoctoral fellow at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), is researching this cartoony creature and has the difficult task of finding it an appropriate name. Until they know what to formally call it, researchers are simply referring to it as the “flapjack octopus,” which belongs with its cousins in the Opisthoteuthis family.

“I was thinking about what my options are [for naming it], and I wanted it to be something indicative of the characteristic of the species. Since they’re so cute, I thought I could name it the Opistoteuthis adorabilis,” Bush told ABC News.

They have a well defined web just under their tentacles that allows them to parachute around the water. The fins above their eyes helps them steer!

In their exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, these un-described cephalopods live in a tank specially designed to imitate the cold, low-oxygen environment of their deep-sea habitat.

The image below shows the flapjack octopus (Opisthoteuthis sp.) on exhibit. Researchers use a red light to display this species because the octopus can’t see red light. This makes it think it’s safe in the darkness of the deep sea, just like its natural habitat.

Researchers use a red light to display this species. Since the octopus can’t see red light, it thinks it’s in the darkness of the deep sea, its natural environment. IMAGE: Monterey Bay Aquarium
Researchers use a red light to display this species. Since the octopus can’t see red light, it thinks it’s in the darkness of the deep sea, its natural environment. IMAGE: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Bush and her MBARI team collected about 15 specimens last year using a remotely-operated vehicle along Monterey Canyon in the eastern Pacific. Those little guys now live at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

For more information about the flapjack octopus check out this awesome ‘Science Friday’ video! 🐙

This Cute Pac-Man Ghost Octopus Needs a Name: Scientist Suggests ‘Adorabilis’

Seven New Teeny Tiny Mini-Frogs Discovered in Brazil – Some are the Smallest Ever

KS Nature

These newly discovered mini-frogs are so small they barely fit on your fingernail – but, they do come in some flashy colors!

Brachycephalus (Anura: Brachycephalidae) is a remarkable genus of miniaturized frogs that call the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest home. The first Brachycephalus species was found in 1824, but most of the species have been discovered over the past 15 years.

The seven new species live on seven distinct mountaintops in south eastern Brazil. Their habitats are known as ‘cloud forests.’ Each species is cut off from one another due to dips and valleys with varying climates that act as environmental barriers.

Brachycephalus are a group of frogs known for their bright colors and miniscule size – some are the smallest terrestrial vertebrates on record (less than 1cm). Their tiny frog anatomy has shrunk to their size, but one thing has changed. These amphibians typically have three toes and two fingers, instead of the five toes and four fingers found in most frogs.

Their skin is what sets them apart. They vary in color and texture; some are rough and bumpy, while others are quite smooth. Their bright colors alert predators to the poisonous toxins in their skin. Those with brighter colors often reflect higher levels of the deadly chemical tetrodotoxin.

The severe isolation experienced by these frogs has produced 21 known species of Brachycephalus – and a new study has pushed that count to 28.

Brachycephalus comes in a variety of bright colors IMAGE: MARCIO R. PIE, CC BY SA
Brachycephalus comes in a variety of bright colors IMAGE: MARCIO R. PIE, CC BY SA

Marcio Pie, a professor at the Universidade Federal do Paranå in Brazil, led researchers into the remote misty rainforest in search of these tiny critters. Following extensive fieldwork, treacherous hikes, and hours of sifting through dirt and leaves, they found a surprising seven new species of Brachycephalus!

Marcio Pie’s findings were published June 4 in the journal PeerJ.

Seven New Teeny Tiny Mini-Frogs Discovered in Brazil – Some are the Smallest Ever

This Adorable Video of a Baby Otter Learning to Swim Will Make Your Day – Maybe Your Week

KS_LOGOs2_UnderwaterBaby otters are a lot of work. But, if its as cute as this little thing, its probably totally worth it! Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium has a new resident; an orphaned southern otter pup known as Pup 681. Watch as her handlers try to teach her to swim 🙂 SO FLUFFY!

The tiny newborn was discovered orphaned on a California beach in September. She spent the first four weeks of her life at the Monterey Bay Aquarium trying to survive. Once her health improved, she was moved to Shedd in Chigaco.

As of November, Pup 681 weighed just under 6 pounds and was 23 inches long – and raising her hasn’t been easy! Stranded sea otter pups require extensive round-the-clock care. Six to eight animal care experts work on a rotating schedule in order to provide care and attention 24 hours a day, all week long. During this crucial period, she is taught how to develop certain behaviors, such as grooming, feeding, and foraging, as well as regulating her body temperature and swimming.

 “It truly takes a village to rehabilitate a young sea otter. Our animal care team is teaching the pup how to be an otter,” said Tim Binder, vice president of Animal Collections for Shedd

Hopefully this is a chance for the world to learn a little more about the otter population, which is constantly under attack. According the the Monteray Bay Aquarium, sea otters once thrived from Baja California to the Pacific Northwest of North America through Alaskan and Russian waters and into Japan before hunters nearly exterminated them in the 1700s and 1800s. Shedd Aquarium wants Pup 681 to raise awareness and melt people’s hearts.

“This rescued animal provides an opportunity for us to learn more about the biological and behavioral attributes of this threatened species and to encourage people to preserve and protect them in the wild,” said Binder.

This Adorable Video of a Baby Otter Learning to Swim Will Make Your Day – Maybe Your Week