It's not often that a sea otter pup is reunited with its mom — and it's even less often that humans actually get to watch the whole thing go down on Facebook.
But on May 26, thanks to help from trained responders from The Marine Mammal Center's San Luis Obispo hospital, one lucky pup did get to see its mother again after drifting away during a strong tide.
"The mothers often tie their pups to kelp while they dive down to forage for food," explained Lucy-Claire Saunders, spokesperson for The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California. "In this case, the tide washed this mother's pup away."
After both the Marine Mammal Center and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife received several calls from concerned beachgoers who noticed the female pup, Mike Harris, a senior sea otter biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Dr. Heather Harris, a veterinarian with The Marine Mammal Center, arrived at the scene.
The pup had no wounds and an alert appearance, so Team Harris deemed it healthy enough to reunite with its mom.
Helped by the Morro Bay Harbor Patrol and a few volunteers with The Marine Mammal Center, the pup was brought by boat through the bay and repeatedly "presented" to adult females in the water. Almost all of them seemed to notice the pup's presence, but they didn't want to come too close to the boat.
It was when one otter looked up and swam right over that they knew they had a mother otter on their hands.
"We were so delighted by the success of this attempt," said Saunders.
How's that for a fairy-tale ending?