A video posted by the National Park Service of a beaver blowing bubbles as it wades off the Outer Banks has presented wildlife officials with an intriguing mystery.
Beavers don’t enjoy saltwater, so why was it calmly lingering in the surf off a North Carolina barrier island, asks the National Park Service.
And what’s with the bubbles?
“Can someone who is familar (sic) with beavers (they are not common in salt water) explain why it is blowing bubbles in the water?” asked Cape Lookout National Seashore on Facebook.
The video was recorded May 2 on the western side at Cape Lookout National Seashore, along the Core Sound, park service officials said on Facebook.
It has been viewed nearly 20,000 times since it was posted May 3, prompting an ongoing debate over whether the out-of-place beaver was sick or just being silly. Some have even suggested it even might be rabid.
On Monday, biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission offered possible explanations, after viewing the video.
Jodie Owen, a spokeswoman for the N.C. Widlife Resources Commission, told the Charlotte Observer staff biologists think the beaver was either sick or disoriented “as beavers usually do not like saltwater environments.”
That disorientation could have been caused when a storm washed the beaver from its mainland home into the sound, she said in an email.
As for the bubbles, commission officials suggest the beaver may have been blowing bubbles through its nose “to get the taste of salt out of its mouth,” Owen said.
“It’s hard to say without getting the beaver and examining it to say what is the issue,” Owen told the Observer. “Definitely not normal behavior, though.”
The National Park Service hasn’t reported what became of the beaver, including whether it eventually crawled up the beach and into the maritime forest.
Beavers are considered “the largest North American rodent,” averaging about 40 pounds as adults in North Carolina, according to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
Storm flood wash is often credited with flushing freshwater wildlife, including the occasional rattlesnake, into the sounds and ocean waters off the Carolinas.
United Press International reported on Monday that Shore Beach Service personnel in South Carolina rescued a small alligator Friday from the waters off the Sea Pines resort’s beach club. It wasn’t made clear how the alligator got in the ocean.