MORRO BAY, Calif. (KRON) — A sea otter and her pup were rescued by a California Department of Fish & Wildlife biologist and a harbor patrol officer after the otters were stranded in the rocks of Morro Bay recently. Wildlife photographer Tim Scott captured the rescue on camera.

The adorable duo had fallen asleep while neatly wedged between rocks along a sea wall, “seemingly safe and secure near the water,” Scott said.

Sea otters fall asleep. / Photo by Tim Scott

As the sea otters slept, the ocean tide dramatically dropped.

Scott said, “A bit later I noticed a commotion back near where we saw the pup and mother sea otter. Heard it yelping loudly. I walked back to see the mother and pup where high and dry now and high up in the rocks. The mother had become deeply wedged as she struggled.”

The tide dropped while the otters were sleeping. When they woke up, they couldn’t get back to the water. / Photo by Tim Scott

The otters were stuck in the rocks and looked distressed, Scott said. The biologist and harbor patrol officer arrived and climbed down the rocks to assess the situation.

Stuck! / Photo by Tim Scott

The more the otters wiggled, the more stuck they became.

Help! / Photo by Tim Scott
She is stuck. But luckily, help is on the way. / Photo by Tim Scott

First, the biologist distracted mom with a blanket while the harbor patrol officer plucked the pup from the rocks.

A state biologist determines that the sea otters are in need of help.

Sea otters have very sharp teeth, and the pup used its mouth to make sure everyone knew it was not happy about being moved away from mom.

Ouch! Baby otter bites down on the harbor patrol officer.

Then the biologist picked up the mother otter while her expression said, “be careful with my flippers.”

Mother sea otter is carried from the rocks into the water.

Adult sea otters can weigh up to 60 pounds. The mother was eased down into the water.

Easy does it

The pup was unceremoniously tossed in, and the look on the pup’s mid-air face quickly became a “mood” meme on social media.

The pair swam away from their rocky ordeal and headed out to the open ocean. Scott said a crowd that had gathered nearby to watch cheered.

It takes an expert in marine mammal science to determine if an animal, like a sea otter, is in need of rescue and how to help it.

Wildlife advocacy group Sea Otter Savvy writes, “Thank you Tim Scott for documenting the harrowing rescue of mother and pup in Morro Bay by Mike Harris and his team. If you ever witness a stranded marine mammal please contact California Department of Fish and Wildlife and/or the Marine Mammal Center. For your safety and for the safety of the sea otter, please do not approach yourself.”

You can learn more about sea otter stranding response here: