SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) — Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz has been known as a “locals only” surf spot for decades. This summer there’s a new wave rider in the lineup who’s aggressive like locals, but also very cute and fuzzy.

A wild sea otter has apparently discovered a pirate passion for commandeering surfboards from surfers on the westside. The otter has stolen half a dozen longboards in the water.

“She’s one smart little otter,” local photographer Mark Woodward told KRON4. The female otter even caught a few waves after hopping on top of one board.

(Photo by Mark Woodward / Native Santa Cruz)

The otter committed its first longboard larceny on June 18 at Cowells, a popular and crowded surf spot for beginners.

“I’m 60 and I’ve been in Santa Cruz my whole life. I’ve never seen an otter get close to a surfboard, let alone, get on it. It shocked me,” Woodward told KRON4.

Woodward has spent this summer documenting the surfing sea otter on camera, as well as unfortunate surfers who struggled to get their boards back.

(Photo by Mark Woodward / Native Santa Cruz)

The otter even worked its way up from targeting boards on small waves at Cowells, to mid-sized Indicators, to big wave Steamer Lane.

(Photo by Mark Woodward / Native Santa Cruz)

Sea otters are an iconic species of the Monterey Bay. Otters have many adorable traits, such as floating on their backs, holding hands in rafts, cuddling with pups, and grooming their thick fur coats. Sea otters, which are distantly related to wolverines, also have sharp teeth.

On Tuesday, an official with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted a warning sign on the cliffs above Steamer Lane reading, “Warning. Aggressive sea otter in this area. Enter the water at your own risk.”

(Photo by Mark Woodward / Native Santa Cruz)

Woodward said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official monitored the water looking for the rogue sea otter. But the marine mammal, which has a tracker and tag on its fin, was too far out to sea Tuesday afternoon.

Wildlife officials said they hope to capture the otter and bring it to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. A spokesperson for the Monterey Bay Aquarium told KRON4, “Our staff is supporting the effort to capture the sea otter. If she is recaptured, the aquarium will provide a health exam and care before she is moved to a long-term home.”

(Photo by Mark Woodward / Native Santa Cruz)

On Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials returned to Santa Cruz with a boat. For several hours, they attempted to trick the otter into swimming closer to the boat by using a surfboard as bait. The savvy sea otter didn’t fall for it.

The otter’s strange behavior is likely due to the fact that she was born in captivity, the New York Times reported. After she was released into the wild, her fear of humans was not as strong as an otter that spent its whole life in the wild.

(Photo by Mark Woodward / Native Santa Cruz)

It’s unknown how long the sea otter will be able to evade capture. As of Thursday morning, the sea otter remained on the loose.

Woodward said the otter is becoming more bold, and has approached surfers three separate times within the past six days.

“The first time I didn’t see it biting anything. But the following encounters were totally frightening (for surfers). Every one of them was very scared,” Woodward said.

A harbor seal curiously watches the surfing sea otter. (Photo by Mark Woodward / Native Santa Cruz)

Over the weekend, Woodward saw the sea otter acting like an normal otter as it dove into the ocean and feasted on crabs using its tummy as a table. Then, “all of a sudden, she made a bee-line into the lineup,” and grabbed onto another board, the photographer said.

Surfers who encountered the otter paddled out of the water with deep bite marks in their soft-top boards. Another surfer wasn’t able to reclaim his board until a nearby fishing boat crew bailed him out.

Not all surfers were bothered by the cute sea otter’s antics. (Photo by Mark Woodward / Native Santa Cruz)

And one man from San Jose had to return his rented surfboard with gashes in it. At first, the board rental store’s employees didn’t believe his story about why the board was damaged. “But he showed them the video, and they let him off the hook,” Woodward said.