The Monterey Bay Aquarium, opened in 1984, has a mission to inspire conservation of the ocean. The Aquarium is a place for people of all backgrounds and ages to discover and fall in love with ocean life. But Aquarium scientists are also rebuilding sea otter populations, transforming fisheries and aquaculture around the world and working to protect California’s coastal ecosystems.
The Giorgi Family Foundation supports the Aquarium’s sea otter conservation work, including a program they pioneered to pair orphaned sea otter pups with non-releasable female exhibit otters. These surrogate-raised otters and their wild kin contribute to the recovery of wetlands and coastal ecosystems. Sea otters may have cute faces and fluffy fur, but they also play a critical role in ecosystem health—eating species that otherwise threaten coastal kelp forests and eelgrass growth in estuaries.
The Aquarium is partnering with other accredited institutions to share their model and best practices in sea otter surrogacy. These collaborations will contribute to a long-term goal to restore sea otter populations to more of their historical range along California’s coast.