Art Quilt: The Hidden Otter

As I've written before in this post, I became interested in the idea of 36 righteous people living in the world that must stay hidden; we are to conduct ourselves as if they or we might be one. My mind led to the idea of 36 hidden animals in the world that we are to care for, but we do not know which ones they are, so we must be stewards of them all. 

In my continuing series of hidden animal quilts, I present the latest, number eight, The Hidden Otter. She is based on a photograph I took of Rosa, the oldest known otter, who resides at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. You can also catch a glimpse of her periodically on the sea otter camera (narrated feedings are 10:30, 1:30, and 3:30 daily). She is part of a one-of-a-kind surrogate mom program at the aquarium, retired now after raising 15 pups that were then able to be released into the wild. The five otters there were deemed non releasable by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for behavioral or medical reasons. (See the USFWS link for more info about the southern sea otter.)

In 2023, you might have heard about Otter 841 who kept climbing onto surfboards off the California coast as well as biting people. She would likely now be a non-releasable otter, if they ever catch her! Apparently, her mother was also too acclimated to humans and although 841 was raised in captivity (hence the number), she was eventually released into the wild with the hope she could maintain a normal otter life. Yes, they are cute, but if you encounter one, give her space!

The southern sea otter, also known as the California sea otter, is what is referred to as a "keystone species." It eats the purple sea urchins that eat the kelp ("clear cutters of the sea"), which is home to many other species of fish and invertebrates. The kelp also functions as the ocean's rain forest, cleaning the air of CO2, just as large forests do on land. We need it. My first quilt with kelp content was Holdfast, which I wrote about here.

I have more ideas for kelp and otter quilts. Stay tuned. And take care of one another.

The Hidden Otter
34.25"h x 29.5"w (87 cm x 75 cm)
Hand-dyed cotton and velvet; Japanese yarn-dyed cotton; hand quilting; sashiko-style quilting with "rising steam" pattern; embroidery

Detail of the otter's head:

smaller, so maybe you can see her better:

pixelated otter head from art quilt

detail of kelp embroidery: