Environment & Science

An otter-ly unlikely visitor splashes into Crystal Cove

A sea otter nicknamed
A sea otter nicknamed "Olly" by the Crystal Cove Alliance swims in low tide on March 17, 2016 before munching on some lobster.
Crystal Cove Alliance

A sea otter splashing around in Crystal Cove has been quite a sight for those who've spotted it since the mammal rarely travels this far south along the California coast.

Holly Fletcher, education manager at the Crystal Cove Alliance, said she first spotted the sea otter nicknamed "Olly" on March 17 after reports that people had seen it in the water. She said she was lucky to catch it in low tide and she watched it eat an octopus and a lobster.

Watch Olly

“It’s really exciting to see one here,” Fletcher told KPCC. “I’ve been working in boats, and on the beach for eight years now, and it's my first time ever seeing an otter in Southern California.”

Fletcher said it's so rare to spot sea otters in SoCal because in the past, they were relocated north if they passed Point Conception in Santa Barbara County. 

Sea otters used to be relocated north after passing Point Conception in Santa Barbara County. The ocean area below Point Conception was known as the
Sea otters used to be relocated north after passing Point Conception in Santa Barbara County. The ocean area below Point Conception was known as the "no otter zone."
Screenshot of Google Maps

According to the Otter Project, the ocean south of Point Conception was known as the "no otter zone" from the late 1980s until 2013. The decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to stop the "translocation" of sea otters came after they determined that the 25-year project that was aimed at protecting the interests of fishermen had failed, according to the L.A. Times.

Fletcher said she attributed Olly's arrival south to the "health of our ecosystem." She spotted Olly after walking about a mile along the beach at Crystal Cove.