Letters to the Editor: Readers are rooting for Santa Cruz’s otter ‘841’ — and they want a better name

A sea otter chews on a surfboard in the water
A sea otter chews on a surfboard after chasing away a surfer near Santa Cruz on July 9.
(Mark Woodward)

To the editor: After what we saw in Norway, when the walrus named Freya was killed for sinking some boats and scaring some authorities, it is distressing to see the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s overreaction to an otter who munches on an occasional surfboard.

Huge thanks to reporter Susanne Rust and the Los Angeles Times for covering the otter’s tale so sympathetically, including quotes from people expressing how the majority surely feels: “This is her home. They should leave her alone and let her be.”

Surfers worried about their boards can surf somewhere else, while the rest of us enjoy the otter’s antics. She deserves her freedom, and a better name than 841. How about Laverna, after the Roman goddess of thieves?


In Freya’s memory, let Laverna be!

Karen Dawn, Santa Barbara

The writer is executive director of the animal advocacy nonprofit DawnWatch.


To the editor: Man’s arrogance seems to know no bounds. Exactly why is it OK for surfers to push out the otters?

I was also surprised to hear the otter in question, disrespectfully called “841,” was raised in captivity. No wonder it wants space. And now they want to catch it again, likely for a lifetime of captive misery like the dolphins and orcas at marine parks.

That otter isn’t coming ashore; we are invading the surf zone. Leave it alone!

Joseph John Racano, Los Osos


To the editor: The otter has no concept of “stealing surfboards.” This area near Santa Cruz is the place she feels comfortable, so just leave her be.


I cannot believe the removal of the otter from this location is even an issue.

Bryan Wold, Lakeside, Calif.