Rare and stunning video capturing a wild sea otter giving birth at the Monterey Bay Aquarium was shared by staffers on Sunday.
The YouTube video — which comes with the warning, “spoiler alert: the miracle of life is graphic” — contains images of the otter mother giving birth on Saturday in the aquarium’s Great Tide Pool section after seeking shelter from stormy weather at sea.
“Our sea otter researchers have been watching wild otters for years and have never seen a birth close-up like this,” the aquarium stated on Facebook. “We’re amazed and awed to have had a chance to witness this Monterey Bay conservation success story first hand in our own backyard.”
The 30-second YouTube clip shows the mother squirming atop a rock as her baby otter comes out inch by inch.
Apparently not wanting to wait any longer, the otter mother grabs ahold of her baby about 10 seconds into the video and pulls it out.
“You’ll notice that mom starts grooming her pup right away to help it stay warm and buoyant — a well-groomed sea otter pup is so buoyant it’s practically unsinkable,” the aquarium said.
Grooming also helps get the pup’s blood flowing, as well as other internal systems ready for eating invertebrates, and keeping nearshore ecosystems, like the kelp forests in Monterey Bay and the eel grass at Elkhorn Slough, healthy, according to the aquarium.
Southern sea otters were once hunted to near extinction, but after legislative protection and “a change of heart toward these furriest of sea creatures,” the population has rebounded in the Monterey Bay area, the aquarium said.