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Special Project

Special Project
From the 1st Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

Wild Sea Otter Birth Captured on Periscope in Stormy Monterey Bay

Entered in Live Streaming


Since its opening in 1984 on Monterey's historic Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium's mission has been to inspire conservation of the ocean. It is the most respected public aquarium in North America, a leader in science education, and a global voice for ocean conservation through active programs in marine science and public policy.

For more than 30 years, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has been a global leader in sea otter research and conservation with the aim of understanding threats to the population and promoting its recovery. The southern sea otter is one of the most popular animals at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, delighting more than 50 million visitors to date. Our five female exhibit animals help inspire conservation of the oceans in two key ways. As ambassadors representing wild sea otters, our exhibit animals offer visitors a more intimate look at this charming marine mammal and their vital role in the kelp forest habitat. Our exhibit animals also work behind the scenes for our program as surrogate mothers for stranded wild pups, and companion animals for older animals we rescue and treat, mostly for injuries and effects of disease, with the goal of release back to the wild.

And visitors can check out wild otters in Monterey Bay off the aquarium's back decks. There, they can use binoculars, telescopes and a radio tracking device to find and watch sea otters being monitored by the aquarium's field research team.

Strategy and Execution

It's not every day that you get to see a sea otter pup come into the world—when a pregnant wild otter took shelter in the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Great Tide Pool in March, we had a unique opportunity to see it happen and share it with our engaged social audience of nearly 3 million followers. We broke the story on Periscope with the first-ever live stream of a sea otter birth.

First observed in the early morning by attentive staff and volunteers, it quickly became clear that this female was very pregnant and ready to pup. Visitors and staff alike watched in respectful quiet while she napped and groomed and paced about the tide pool. After several hours, she hauled out cautiously onto a rock and, moments later, pulled a brand new pup to her as the crowd gasped (quietly).

One of the most successful ways we deliver conservation content is by highlighting the appeal of our animals. Our animals, specifically our iconic Pacific species like sea otters are consistent content performers. The Monterey Bay Aquarium audience responds very favorably to videos and photos of sea otters, so much so, that our audience research agency has taken to calling them our "superpower." Harnessing our superpower, after the live Periscope broadcast, the story with video and images was shared across social platforms including Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Katch, as well as our Newsroom, blog, and website.

Whereas this was a wild sea otter, and not one that we had rescued, it served as the perfect opportunity to talk about how the Monterey Bay Aquarium has been a global leader in sea otter research and conservation for thirty years.


Affectionately called, "the squee heard 'round the world," 2,100 Periscope viewers tuned in to the live stream, posting 515 comments. The archived version of the stream has been watched 63,275 times, and sea otter researchers are calling the footage a valuable scientific tool.

To date, the five posts about the birth posted on Facebook have generated a reach of over 14 million, with 157,000 reactions, 102,000 shares and over 9,000 comments to which we responded through social care.

Our public relations team recorded extensive media coverage of the birth in local, national and international markets. Other major media coverage included, AP & UPI online, AOL News, Popular Science online,, The Washington Post online, Los Angeles Times online, The Huffington Post,, USA Today online, ABC News online, The TODAY show, Daily Mail online, Mother Nature Network online.

Highlights include:

"Word must be getting out among the wild sea otters of central California that a tide pool outside the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a comfortable — if very public — birthing center." - The Washington Post

"Never has graphic biological content been so adorable." - The Atlantic

"The births provide hope that the marine mammal's populations are on the rise." - Discovery News online


Video for Wild Sea Otter Birth Captured on Periscope in Stormy Monterey Bay

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Monterey Bay Aquarium


Entry Credits