A happy surprise greeted staff and onlookers at Monterey Bay Aquarium's Great Tide Pool on Monday morning: The world's count of sea otters had increased by an unexpected, and very cute, 1.
It seems a female otter had been using the protected basin, which connects to the bay, to get some respite from winter storms out in the open waters.
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In fact, she was visiting the pool so often that aquarium officials were concerned that she might be sick, as they knew it would be unusual behavior for a healthy otter to drop by the pool so frequently.
But the mysterious otter soon made it clear why she was hanging out in the pool so often: She was in the family way! Evidence for that fact was pretty hard to miss -- staff were greeted that morning by the sight of a newborn otter pup cuddling up to mom, umbilical cord still attached, receiving some grooming.
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At this writing, mom and her pup were still hanging out in the safety of the aquarium tidal pool, but it's come-and-go as you please in the Great Tide Pool, and officials say the mom could head out to sea with her new charge at any moment.