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Rescued Alaskan sea otters settle into new home in UK first

The mammals, which are endangered, will help educate visitors about the impact of climate change on marine habitats.

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The otters are coming to Birmingham. (Jacob King/PA)

The otters are coming to Birmingham. (Jacob King/PA)

The otters are coming to Birmingham. (Jacob King/PA)

A pair of rare Alaskan sea otters are getting settled into their new home in a UK first, as part of a conservation project to boost awareness.

The rescue pair, who were orphaned, are being transported more than 5,000 miles by land and air to take up residence at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham.

Once prized by 19th century hunters for their thick, rich pelts, they had been pushed to the brink of extinction and are still listed as endangered.

It is hoped the UK pair, taking up residence in a new temperature-controlled multimillion-pound enclosure, will play a key role in a Sea Life Trust-partnered programme to educate visitors about global marine life and climate change.

After a process taking more than two years, US wildlife authorities granted the UK a guardianship application permit to bring the otters to the country – for the first time.

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The rescued sea otters, pictured at their former enclosure in Seward, Alaska, in the United States. (Jacob King/PA)

The rescued sea otters, pictured at their former enclosure in Seward, Alaska, in the United States. (Jacob King/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

The rescued sea otters, pictured at their former enclosure in Seward, Alaska, in the United States. (Jacob King/PA)

Jonny Rudd, Birmingham Sea Life Centre curator, said: “This is such an incredibly exciting time for us.

“It’s been a pioneering project for the country, taking global efforts and a collective vision with our conservation partners to protect the world’s oceans and the incredible marine life which lives within.

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A wild Alaskan sea otter in Resurrection Bay off the port city of Seward in southern Alaska. (Jacob King/PA)

A wild Alaskan sea otter in Resurrection Bay off the port city of Seward in southern Alaska. (Jacob King/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

A wild Alaskan sea otter in Resurrection Bay off the port city of Seward in southern Alaska. (Jacob King/PA)

“Sadly, an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality can have detrimental consequences to our planet, but this is now our opportunity to open up the reality of a world which feels very far removed from our own.

“The sea otters’ arrival will be a landmark moment for the UK and give us a sense of connection to nature and wildlife from across the globe, highlighting the unconscious impact we’re having so we can start to make small differences.”

  • Average hairs per square inch on a human head: 700
  • Average hair per square inch on a sea otter: 170,000 to over a million.

He added that under the agreement, money raised through the otters’ UK residency, will go to help efforts on the ground back in Alaska.

The otters, which consume up to a third of their body weight each day in food, can live for up to 20 years in the wild.

PA