SAN FRANCISCO —
The group said until now it had no evidence the creatures had returned to San Francisco, and the last sighting was nearly a half-century ago as best they can tell.
The otter is nicknamed “Sutro Sam” after the old baths, which were named after former San Francisco Mayor Adolph Sutro, who built the building which at the time was an engineering marvel.
The facility opened in 1896 on a cliff facing the Pacific Ocean, its baths fed by the salty ocean tides and a freshwater seep. They were torn down and burned in a fire in 1966, and the building’s carcass has long been a tourist draw on the city’s rugged, western shoreline.
The aquatic mammal seems to have found the mix of the environment he needs to make a home, to the delight of tourists and local nature lovers.
“They do need freshwater to drink and keep their fur clean,” Isadore said. “They are also happy in salt and brackish water — wherever there is food — and he is getting freshwater from seeps behind the baths.”
River otters can be found in other regions of the San Francisco Bay area. To the north of the Golden Gate, the researchers are tracking a group in Marin County. They have also found river otters in shore-side San Francisco Bay area communities of Alameda, Richmond and Martinez.