DOWNTOWN — The Shedd Aquarium needs help picking a name for a rescued sea otter.
The public can vote to decide a name for the sea otter, who is Otter 929 for now, according to the Shedd.
The Shedd’s animal care staff released a short list of names inspired by places along the coast in California where most southern sea otters are found.
The public can vote online through 5 p.m. Monday. The name of the otter will be announced Tuesday.
- Sunny: named after Sunset Beach next to Asilomar Beach in California
- Jade: named after Jade Cove located in the southern area of Big Sur in California
- Willow: named after Willow Creek Picnic Area and Beach in Monterey County, California
The female otter was found along with Otter 926 stranded this year at beaches in California. They were brought to the Shedd Aquarium to learn to be surrogate mothers as part of a nationwide program to save sea otters.
The otters will grow up together in Chicago before returning to an aquarium in California to raise orphaned otter pups, according to a Shedd news release.
Otter 926 and Otter 929 have been acclimating well to their new digs in Chicago and can occasionally be seen in the otter habitat at Shedd’s Abbott Oceanarium, aquarium leaders said.
The otters have joined three others — Luna, Cooper and Watson — who are also rescues.
They’ll be taught critical life skills by caretakers to prepare them to care for pups, Shedd officials said. Mothers must teach their pups how to dive to forage food and how to groom their dense fur to survive Pacific Ocean temperatures, according to the Shedd.
Sea otters are the smallest marine mammals and are known to spend up to four hours each day grooming their hair, which is the thickest fur in the animal kingdom, according to the Shedd. They eat bottom-dwelling, nearshore animals such as clams, crabs and octopus.
Southern sea otters have been a threatened species since 1977 because of the fur trade and threat of oil spills, according to the Marine Mammal Commission.
The names “help the aquarium make a connection with guests to their native habitat and explain why sea otters are a vital part of the marine ecosystem,” aquarium leaders said in a news release.
Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: