A sea otter on Tuesday was released back into his ocean home off Half Moon Bay after a three-month rehabilitation at The Marine Mammal Center.
Named Yankee Doodle, the otter was rescued on July 3 after trained responders from the Sausalito-based center recognized signs of distress, officials said.
Believed to be about 4 years old, Yankee Doodle was treated for domoic acid poisoning, which was likely caused when the otter consumed shellfish containing algae.
When he was found, Yankee Doodle was underweight and lethargic. Blood tests found that he was also suffering from toxoplasmosis. The infection is caused by a parasite and can often have fatal results, according to center officials.
"Thankfully for Yankee Doodle, he was rescued in time to receive life-saving treatment for both neurological conditions,” said Dr. Shawn Johnson, director of veterinary science at The Marine Mammal Center.
A Life History Transmitter tag was implanted in Yankee Doodle’s abdomen before he was freed. Its sensors will relay information to The Marine Mammal Center about the sea otter’s activities and also how he dies.
The California coast was once home to an estimated 20,000 southern sea otters. Sadly, that is no longer the case and the mammals are now a threatened species.