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Born to Ride? That Surfboard-Stealing Sea Otter Just Had a Baby

Remember that surfboard-stealing sea otter, Otter 841, who was giving wildlife authorities (and surfers) a run for their money this summer? Well, a local photographer believes Otter 841 is now a proud mom, after spotting her with what appears to be a fuzzy bundle of joy.

Otter 841 is about five years old, and she lives off the coast of Santa Cruz, California. In July, the same otter was the subject of much media attention when she aggressively approached surfers in the area, in some cases biting their boards. At one point, she even commandeered one.

Mark Woodward, the local photographer known as @nativesantacruz on social media, has been keeping tabs on Otter 841 since her rise to fame. In a post on Instagram, Woodward said he’s grown fond of the feisty animal, and when he noticed her pup, it nearly brought a tear to his eye.

Southern sea otters like Otter 841 and her baby are protected under the Endangered Species Act in the U.S., and they are critical parts of their kelp-forest ecosystem. Otters along the coast of California eat sea urchins, which would overgraze on the kelp, if they had the chance.

When they’re first born, sea otter pups weigh 3-5 pounds. Their fur traps too much air for them to dive underwater, so moms wrap their babies up in kelp at the surface while they dive for dinner.

Moms like Otter 841 spend up to eight months carrying their babies around on their chests, nursing and grooming them. During this time, pups receive constant and devoted care and learn otter fundamentals that’ll help them live on their own.

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