A southern sea otter in rehabilitation at The Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands has been named "Sprout" with a little help from roughly 4,500 people who participated in a voting contest, center officials said Thursday.
There were more than 800 names initially suggested, but veterinarians working with Sprout narrowed it down to just six, which they said best suited the young otter's personality.
The runners up included Abby, Harper, Harry Otter, Lola and Zoe.
Sprout ended up in the Marin Headlands to keep Langly, another rescued otter pup, company after Langly's mother suffered a shark bite and subsequently died.
Southern sea otters are a threatened species, and bites from great white sharks are a leading cause of their mortality in California. Scientists say the sharks don't usually even eat otters, but they get mistaken for seals.
Sprout was just a few months old when she was stranded in Monterey in February. Veterinarians say she was malnourished and found to have a severe parasite infection.
She was also suffering seizures. Test results later showed she'd been exposed to domoic acid - a biotoxin that sometimes builds up in shellfish.
Officials with The Marine Mammal Center said that anyone who wants to help Sprout can make a symbolic adoption through the Adopt-a-Seal program - and those who do will receive a photo and adoption certificate.
Center officials will use the adoption fee to help feed the otters sustainably-caught seafood and buy lifesaving veterinary equipment for use at the center.
The Marine Mammal Center is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and is located at 2000 Bunker Road.