In San Francisco, California, the first river otter (in fifty years) is living in the city. The otter has mystified and delighted tourists and conservationists alike, who are piecing together clues to figure out just how he got there…
The otter is nicknamed “Sutro Sam” after the location of where he builds his nest: the old historic baths, which were named after former San Francisco Mayor Adolph Sutro, who built the building, which at the time was an engineering marvel.
“We came here to see the baths and this was just a bonus,” said Eliza Durkin, who brought her son Jonathan to the site for a school project on historic places.
He was first spotted in September and has since settled into the City by the Bay.
River otters once thrived in the San Francisco Bay area, but development, hunting and environmental pollution in the 19th and 20th centuries has taken its toll on the once thriving local population.
The critters are a living barometer of water quality – if it’s bad they cannot thrive. But new populations being seen north and east of San Francisco are giving hope to conservationists that years of environmental regulations and new technologies are making a difference.
“The fact that this otter is in San Francisco and doing so well in other regions of the Bay Area, it’s a good message that there’s hope for the watershed,” said Megan Isadore, director of outreach and education for the River Otter Ecology Project, a group that studies otter populations further north and in the bay.
This aquatic mammal seems to have found the mix of the environment he needs to make a home, to the delight of tourists and local nature lovers.