Twin sea otters, like these adorable pups spotted this week in California’s Morro Bay, are really really rare — one sea otter researcher told Wired that this was only the fourth pair of twins she’d ever seen. Unfortunately, that’s kind of for the best, since being a twin is a distinct disadvantage for a baby otter. Eventually the mom will have to give one of them up, at which point it will only be able to survive on its own for 24 hours. Which is why researchers and park rangers are searching hard to find this trio again.
The rare twins were first spotted on Monday, and researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and California Department of Fish and Game kept an eye on them for a full day. Mom was actually rallying pretty well — she “did a really good job of keeping on top of everything, and watching the two. She was very attentive to both of them,” according to otter researcher Michelle Staedler. “If one drifted away, she would go back and pick it up and get it and put it on top of her.” But a heavy fog on Tuesday broke up the researchers’ watch, and when it rolled out, the pups were nowhere to be found.
Wired reports that the hunt is still on for babies and mom, but is sort of hampered by the fact that it’s hard to describe them beyond “looks like an otter”:
“[The mother] is decidedly lacking in distinguishing characteristics, such as nose scarring (incurred during mating — hers is perfectly black) or unusual grizzle (the lighter fur color on the head and body of some otters — hers is fairly average),” writes Gena Bentall, a marine biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “Her one distinguishing feature was the presence of two pups and that is extremely unlikely to have persisted long beyond our last sighting.”
An otter similar to this description (“looks like an otter”) has been spotted, but with only one pup. Which, uh, means the babies are fine! The babies are fine. Enjoy your weekend. *sob*