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Sutro Sam, the river otter in San Francisco’s Sutro Baths!

Biologists are stumped!

How did a river otter get into San Francisco‘s Sutro Baths?

Megan Isadore, co-founder of the River Otter Ecology Project, wonders whether Sam was a “stowaway” on a boat, or did he swim from Marin County? The L.A. Times says:

Since taking up residence in the ruins about three months ago, the otter has spent his days swimming, sunbathing on the concrete walkways of the pools and scouring the shores for vegetation, perhaps rounding up the material to make a nest for the cool nights.

“He’s got everything he needs down there,” Isadore said. “He’s got food. He’s got a place to eat. He’s fine.”

Isadore said she doesn’t know how long Sutro Sam will stick around the baths. He might just get lonely and shove off to find a mate in the late winter.

“The only thing he’s lacking,” she said, “is a female.”

Nobody knows where he came from or how long he will stay. But as the L.A. Times notes:

“Sutro Sam,” as he has been christened by his growing fan base, is believed to be the first river otter to make San Francisco its home in decades.

Biologists believe that river otters once thrived in the area, as they did in coastal waters of the United States and Canada. But development and the fur trade in the 19th and early 20th centuries wiped out much of the population across the nation. In recent years, there hasn’t been a concerted effort to document the river otter population in the Bay Area, so not much is known.

-Bill at

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