Two Rare River Otter Attacks Reported in California
In separate incidents, otters sent swimmers—including one actress—to hospitals for emergency treatment
Do you think river otters are cute, fuzzy, and harmless? Think again. This summer, two people in California were violently attacked by river otters. Yes, river otters.
According to SFGate, the first incident occurred in Mid-July on Serene Lake, near Lake Tahoe, when an otter attacked a swimmer. The victim of the attack, who has not been identified to the media, was reportedly bit 15 to 20 times by two otters and was treated with sutures at a nearby hospital.
“A bite, especially an animal bite, can cause a lot of damage to nerves, arteries and veins, muscles, and tendons, so we had to do a really thorough irrigation of the wounds to make sure they didn’t get infected,” said Dr. Martin Rosengreen, the ER doctor at Tahoe Forest Hospital who treated the victim. “[The otters] were going toward her face and she was trying to ward them off.”
Several days later, a similar attack occurred on the Middle Fork of the Feather River, around a hundred miles from the first attack. The victim was actress Crystal Finn, who appeared in the hit T.V. show Succession. She was swimming when the otters struck.
“I felt something really sharp on my butt and started screaming,” she told Mercury News. “Then I saw these three little heads pop up, right in front of me…But I was so disoriented. Seeing otters — initially, it just didn’t add up.”
The otters continued biting Finn as she swam to shore in an attack she described as seeming “rather orchestrated.” She says that once she left the water, the otters floated down the river as if nothing had happened. Finn was also treated for minor wounds by Dr. Rosengreen at the Tahoe Forest Hospital.
River otter attacks are rare—but not unheard of. At least of the semi-aquatic mammals, which typically weigh between 11 and 30 pounds, was responsible for attacking three tubers in Montana this August. Members of the species are known to occasionally become aggressive when they feel cornered or when protecting their young.