River Otter Makes Rare SF Appearance

A river otter has taken up residence near Sutro Baths

By Chris Roberts
|  Thursday, Jan 3, 2013  |  Updated 4:55 PM PDT
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Sutro Sam

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San Francisco's first river otter in decades -- and only otter at all in the 415 -- has appeared near Sutro Baths.

The otter, dubbed Sutro Sam by scientists, favors a pool full of oversized goldfish near the ruins in the Outer Richmond, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. He -- and he is a he -- apparently swam across the Golden Gate from Marin County, scientists say, but they are not sure.

So many otters have popped up in Marin that some wildlife-conscious resident has erected an "Otter Crossing" sign in Larkspur, the newspaper reported.

Sutro Sam is not afraid of people and is well-fed and healthy, the scientists say. The pool he's found at Sutro is perfect for an otter -- it's next to the ocean but is fed with fresh water from underground, the newspaper reported. He's eating carp-sized goldfish, dumped there by residents, "like potato chips," according to Megan Isadore of the River Otter Ecology Project.

Sam has been in the waters near Sutro since September, the newspaper reported. Scientists will conduct tests on the jelly found in his intestines, which may help to digest fish bones. In the meantime, otter-watchers are asked to keep their dogs away from Sam's pool -- so the dogs don't get bitten.

To donate to the Sam-testing efforts, visit riverotterecology.org.

See more Sam photos here.

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