Arctic sea otter playing in the water. By neelsky | Shutterstock.com
Arctic sea otter playing in the water. By neelsky | Shutterstock.com

About sea otters.

Sea otters are one of the smallest marine mammal species and have the thickest fur of any mammal. They have to rely on this waterproof fur to stay warm because they don’t have thick layers of fat like other cold-water mammals.


They are capable of living their entire lives without ever having to set foot on dry land; their nostrils and ears can close, and they can sleep while floating on the water because of their lung capacity: 2.5 times that of other similar-sized mammals. This allows them to hold their breath under water for up to 5 minutes.


Sea otters hold hands while sleeping on the water or they wrap themselves in seaweed to keep them from drifting apart.


Males and females sleep in separate groups of 10–100 individuals. However, the biggest group ever seen contained over 2,000 sea otters!


There are three subspecies: common sea otter or Asian sea otter, which is the largest; the southern sea otter, with a narrower skull; and the northern sea otter, that lives mainly in Alaska and British Columbia.


Sea otters have ‘pockets’ under their forelegs where they store the food they gather on their dives and bring it to the surface.


They are one of the few animals that can use tools. Sometimes they use stones to crack open hard shells.


In the 1740s, they were almost brought to extinction by commercial fur trade, reducing their population to only 1,000-2,000 individuals.


Their main predators include orcas, sea lions and sometimes sharks. Bald eagles pray on young pups.


It is the only mammal that uses its forepaws to catch fish and not its mouth.


Sea otters must eat 25%-40% of their weight every day in order to keep warm. They consume over 100 different animal species, mainly marine invertebrates.


They play a vital role in the ecosystem, as they eat a big amount of sea urchins (which feed on seaweed) protecting marine kelp forests.

Sea otter eats something while floating in the ocean. By Menno Schaefer | Shutterstock.com
Sea otter eats something while floating in the ocean. By Menno Schaefer | Shutterstock.com
COMMON NAMECONSERVATION STATUS
Sea OtterEndangered
SCIENTIFIC NAMESIZE
Enhydra lutris1–1,5 m (3.2–5 ft)
FAMILYWEIGHT
Mustelidae14–45 kg (31–99 lb)
ORDERLIFESPAN
Carnivora10-20 years
CLASSGESTATION PERIOD
Mammalia4–20 months (delayed implantation)
 POPULATION DIET
106,000 worldwideLittle animals from the bottom of the ocean.
HABITATRANGE
Coastal waters of 50-75 ft in depth, normally within 1 km (0,6 miles) from the shore.They are found in an arc around the North Pacific, stretching from Northern Japan to the center of Baja California in Mexico.

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