Sea Otters


Sea otters

The smallest of all marine mammals, southern sea otters once thrived from Northern California to Baja. Hunted to the brink of extinction by the fur trade of the 1800s, a small colony survived near Big Sur. Today, only about 2,000 southern sea otters exist, and they face many dangersólike oil spills, entanglement in fishing gear, diseases and pollution. In order to help save the sea otters and help their survival we need to raise awareness about them. There are many ways to do this whether traditional or not so traditional like raising money to help the cause or bringing information to schools to educate children about the issues sea otters face. You could even make your own t-shirt to show your support and help the cause. T-shirts, flyers and posters are an easy way to get information out there and make it visible to the public in many areas. You may also want to try creating your own internet campaign or site like ours to help raise awareness to people all over the world... please continue below to read more detailed info about sea otters and their habitat.

more about sea otters

Sea otters average four feet in length and weigh between 40-60 pounds. While their bodies are adapted for water - they have flipper-like hind feet and broad flat tails - sea otters are actually quite slow swimmers when compared to other marine mammals.

Unlike most marine mammals, sea otters lack a thick layer of fat to insulate them from cold temperatures. Instead, they have an extremely dense coat of fur which helps to trap a layer of air close to their skin to keep them warm.

Female sea otters are ready to bear young at three to four years, and normally give birth to one pup. Since pups are heavily dependent upon their mothers for up to one year, sea otters usually reproduce every other year. Sea otter pups are typically two feet in length and weigh between three and five pounds at birth.

Habitat & Diet

Southern sea otters are found along the central coast of California. They eat sea urchins, mollusks, squid, crabs, and clams. Their teeth are specially adapted to eating shellfish, allowing them to crush shells and scoop out meat. They will occasionally eat finfish, but their rounded teeth lack the sharp edges necessary to handle the slippery prey.

Since otters' eyes are not well adapted for dimly lit ocean water, they rely on their sensitive front paws to locate and gather food. In order to maintain their body temperature, sea otters must consume about 25 percent of their body weight each day. Unlike most animals, sea otters use tools to eat. They often use rocks to crack open their prey as they float on their backs.


Threats to Sea Otters

Hunted to the brink of extinction by the fur trade of the 1800s, a small colony of southern sea otters survived near Big Sur. Today only about 2,000 exist and they are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

They face the threat of entanglement in gill and trammel net fisheries. They are also threatened by oil spills since they rely on their dense fur for warmth. If their coats become soiled by oil, it becomes matted and can no longer trap air next to their skinówhich can lead to pneumonia or hypothermia. Additionally, they often try to clean their fur by licking it and become poisoned.

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