A pair of river otters popped up December 17 on a dock behind the 101 Surf Sports shop in San Rafael. Our friends at the shop took this photo. River otters often go into salt water and have been seen in the open ocean off the Mendocino coast. They are also seen co-mingling with sea otters in Puget Sound, Washington, according to Steve Shimek of the Otter Project, Monterey Coastkeeper.
The appearance of river otters in San Francisco Bay is a sign that pollution has decreased significantly since the 1960s, when the Bay was far too contaminated to support otters, Shimek says.
Ann Bauer of the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito reports that river otters have made a comeback in Marin in the last ten years and are now found in the Marin Headlands. Sea otters are also occasionally seen in San Francisco Bay and along the local coast.
To see more photos of the San Rafael river otters, click here.
Photos by David Wells of 101 Surf Sports.