This image shows an encounter between a female otter and a surfer off the coast of Santa Cruz, California.
This image shows an encounter between a female otter and a surfer off the coast of Santa Cruz, California. Image Credit: Hefti Brunhold/TMX via AP

Los Angeles: Wanted: one ornery sea otter that has been attacking California surfers and commandeering their boards.

Wildlife authorities in the city of Santa Cruz, about a 90-minute drive south of San Francisco, have actually posted a warning to the public about the creature, which they say is a five-year-old female.

She has been attacking surfers for weeks but of late her marauding has risen to a new level.

In a stunning video posted Monday on Twitter, the otter climbs up on one surfer's board, and hangs on as he tries to shake and roll it to get her off. At one point the otter lunges at him, and eventually starts biting the board. She is downright relentless.

The authorities have put out an all-points bulletin about this critter.

"Due to the increasing public safety risk, a team from CDFW and the Monterey Bay Aquarium trained in the capture and handling of sea otters has been deployed to attempt to capture and rehome her," reads a statement from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. CDFW is the equivalent California state agency.

Settlers in America used to hunt sea otters for their pelts until the early 20th century, and their numbers dwindled almost to the point of extinction.

The animals are still endangered but they have fought back and it is believed there are around 3,000 of them in the waters of the northern Pacific.

Coming across a sea otter in the water is rare but not unheard of for surfers, kayak enthusiasts and sailors.

With their little heads sticking out of the water as they swim, sometimes upside down, people tend to find them cute.

But these animals are actually aggressive predators and their bites are dangerous.

The behavior of this one female in the waters off Santa Cruz is nonetheless uncommon, and experts are puzzled as to her level of aggression.

Local scientists know her. The New York Times reported that this sea otter was born in captivity to a mother who lost her innate fear of humans after being fed by them so often.

"I was scared," Joon Lee, who was attacked by the otter on Sunday, told the Los Angeles Times.

"I was trying to swim away, but before I was able to get far, it bit my leash," he said, describing the tether that surfers wear around their ankle to connect themselves to their board. "So I panicked."