A young woman finds a stranded baby sea otter on a windswept beach after a storm. Peering down at the damp, shivering fur ball, she grabs her cell phone and makes a call, setting in motion a story about the otter’s struggle for survival and humans’ efforts to protect an iconic species.
Combining documentary and dramatic narrative techniques, OTTER 501 chronicles the remarkable true story of an orphaned baby otter who was washed ashore on the Northern California coast when she was less than a week old. Rescued by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Research and Conservation Program, “501,” as she was called, became part of a groundbreaking surrogate program where she was introduced to an adoptive sea otter mother who reared her for months so she could develop the necessary skills to survive in the wild. Parallel to this remarkable tale of how 501 got a second chance at life is the story of young Katie, an aspiring marine biologist who discovers the orphaned otter and and becomes a volunteer at the Aquarium. Blending original footage and the tools of social media, OTTER 501 is a unique hybrid of fact and fiction that takes the traditional wildlife documentary into a new style of storytelling.