ATLANTA, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Ever heard of a clamsicle? It is not your typical seafood delicacy, but it is a favorite snack for sea otters at the Georgia Aquarium. 41NBC's Amanda Castro and Melissa Lee kick off their animal encounters series with a look at the new sea otter encounter where you can get an up close look at these furry, loveable, and curious animals.
"You guys ready?" Gina Fisher, the associate curator of mammals and birds, asked Castro and Lee.
41NBC got the opportunity to meet Brighton, a playful 3-year-old sea otter who was our new friend for the day. She did her best to distract us.
"Sea otters are very curious, they might reach out and try to say hello," Corey Groom, animal care and training specialist, said.
But before we could say hi, we had to take a crash course in "Otter 101."
"Their main natural predators are killer whales and the great white shark," Groom said.
During a short presentation, Groom told us there are only 100,000 sea otters left in the world. That is a huge drop after humans hunted for the pelts during the 19th century.
"There's about 350,000 to a million hairs per square inch, which is about the size of a postage stamp," Groom said.
We also learned otters use their sharp teeth to crush and chew their food.
"Food is very important to these guys because they eat about 25% of their body weight a day," Groom added.
And it is only the best for the five otters at the Georgia Aquarium. They eat shrimp, clams, squid, crab legs, and more up to eight times a day.
"It's all restaurant quality," Groom said.
After we became otter experts, it was finally our chance to meet Brighton.
"Hi Brighton! So soft," Lee said.
"Have you guys ever felt a sea otter's nose?" Fisher asked.
Once we were properly introduced, it was feeding time.
"You guys ready to feed her a clamsicle?These are delightful and delicious!" Fisher said.
Maybe not to us, but Brighton couldn't get enough of them.
"Hi Brighton! I got a clamsicle for you. You want it? There you go!" Castro said.
The animal experts at the Georgia Aquarium say it is these interactions that create bonds and memories that make the job worthwhile.
"They get to come here and not only meet them but get up close and personal with them," Fisher said. "It really does make that strong connection where you get to meet Brighton and we can walk away knowing that we've made a difference by helping support these encounters through the Georgia Aquarium."
And help with the aquarium's mission to rescue, research, rehabilitate, and take responsibility for caring of these animals.
Visit http://www.georgiaaquarium.org/ for more information on the sea otter encounter and to learn how you can sign up.
Tune into Daybreak on Wednesday starting at 5 a.m. to learn more about the penguin encounter at the aquarium.