Aggressive otter caught stealing board from surfer
It may be hard to visualize an otter stealing a board from a surfer – until you see it on video.
A surfer in Santa Cruz was the latest victim of an aggressive otter who jumped on the back of his board and damaged it. But to make things even stranger, the Santa Cruz Police department said this was not an isolated incident.
"An aggressive sea otter in the area is biting, scratching and climbing on surfboards," the police wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. "There have been four incidents of otter interactions with surfers in Santa Cruz."
They said the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, or CDFW, is working to capture and relocate the otter.
Watch Out, West Cliff Surfers! 🦦🏄♂️ An aggressive sea otter in the area is biting, scratching, and climbing on...
In a statement to CBS News, a representative for the the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said the otter in question is a 5-year-old female "exhibiting concerning and unusual behaviors" including "approaching surfers and kayakers recreating in the area."
"Due to the increasing public safety risk, a team from CDFW and the Monterey Bay Aquarium trained in the capture and handling of sea otters has been deployed to attempt to capture and rehome her," the statement reads.
The department said once the sea otter is captured, it will be examined at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and officials will look for a long-term home for her. "While this otter's behavior is highly unusual and the exact cause for this sea otter's behavior is unknown, aggressive behavior in female southern sea otters may be associated with hormonal surges or due to being fed by humans," the department said.
A sea otter showed similar behavior in September 2022 and the aquarium successfully "hazed" her, or deterred her from the area.
Police said no injuries have been reported, but they are advising kayakers, surfers and others not to approach otters.
Native Santa Cruz, an Instagram account that shares photos and videos from locals in the California county, shared the video on Tuesday.
The surfer in the video posted a photo of his damaged board after the incident. "Had an interesting weekend," he wrote on Instagram.
Photos from the beach where the otter stole the surfboard show signs warning people of an "aggressive sea otter" in the area, advising them to "enter the water at your own risk."
The signs, posted by California officials, also advise people to stay away from marine life and to report any interactions to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Caitlin O'Kane is a digital content producer covering trending stories for CBS News and its good news brand, The Uplift.