For one of the smallest marine mammals on Earth (yet the largest member of the weasel family), the sea otter has racked up quite a few superlatives: 1. Mating is polygynous—one male breeds with all the females in its breeding territory. Sea otters are social, and hang out together in groups called rafts. At birth, the weight of a pup is 3 to 5 pounds. Not all otters use tools, but sea otters use them all the time. Some of these animals have hard shells, which protect them from predators. Sea otters are carnivores in the family Mustelidae—a group of animals that also includes terrestrial and semi-aquatic forms such as weasels, badgers, skunks, fishers, minks, and river otters. To hunt prey, sea otters have been known to dive as deep as 320 feet; however, males mostly forage at depths of around 260 feet and females about 180 feet. Their nickname is the “sea beaver.” They keep warm because of their incredibly dense fur–with up to nearly 1,000,000 (one million) hairs per square inch! Yet, sea otters do possess the fine, dense fur coats characteristic of the Mustelidae. Scottish coastal otters, for example, which usually forage and hunt throughout the day in summer, instead seek prey more intensively in the mornings (though, interestingly, camera-traps set by the International Otter Survival Fund have revealed that they are in fact also active at night). A daily food intake of 15–20 per cent of body weight is key to survival, and otters adapt their patterns of predation and hunting behaviour to make the most of the prey available during these leaner months. Their teeth are strong enough to crunch open a clam shell or bite through a sea urchin's spines. They use the rock as a table against which they smash their shelled prey to g… Sea otter is the heaviest and the second smallest aquatic member of weasel family. Sea Otter Facts Description. Already have an account with us? They have an interesting method of eating their prey. Sea otters are a keystone species and play a critical role in the food web of the kelp forest, so much so that even terrestrial species are influenced by sea otter activity. Sea otters are a medium-sized member of the Mustelidae family. The most gregarious by far are sea otters, which are polygynous (males mate with multiple females). You can learn all about them here – Otters of the World. Sea otters are part of the weasel family. You can unsubscribe at any time. Sea otter rafts are segregated: Groups of between two and 1,000 otters are either all males or females and their young. But habitat loss and hunting have brought many populations of other otter species crashing down around the world, especially in more tropical locations. The size of the California (or southern) sea otters is about 4 feet. The length of a sea otter is four feet in California whereas in north sea, the height is slightly more than this. To swim faster they use their webbed feet for propulsion and undulate their bodies. As a result, kelp abundance decreases and other marine species have less habitat. Like polar bears in the Arctic, sea otters are considered keystone species in their ecosystems, because they affect... 2. The sea otters once roamed across large swaths of their Pacific territory, but because their fur is highly desired, they were hunted to the brink of extinction. A sea otter can consume up to 11kg of food every day to support its high metabolism – that’s about a quarter of its own body weight! Check out this amazing video of incredibly cute otters using rocks to break open their food: Sea otters have many ways of tugging on our heartstrings. These include spraint sites on exposed roots and stones, worn slides on muddy banks and tracks showing five webbed toes. It is 40–65 inches (100–160 cm) long and weighs Thirteen different species of otter exist all around the world. When oil coats a sea otter's fur, air can't get through and the sea otter can't clean it out. The fur is responsible for insulating them and keeping them warm because they do not have a layer of blubber to keep them warm and protect them from the outside environment. An otter is one of the few species that use tools. Forget everything you thought you knew about otter species. It is native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. A recent study has revealed that sea otter tooth enamel is much tougher than that of humans, helping to prevent their teeth from being chipped when cracking into the prey using their high bite force. Fully 10 percent of a sea otter's day is spent grooming its fur. 2. In environments where sea otter populations have been reintroduced, tall kelp forests are flourishing. Sea otter, (Enhydra lutris), rare, completely marine otter of the northern Pacific, usually found in kelp beds. Otters have some interesting relatives. Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences. Many otters eat tough food, particularly sea otters that inhabit the shallow coastal waters of the northern Pacific. Sea otters are foragers that eat mostly hard-shelled invertebrates, including sea urchins and a variety of clams, mussels, and crabs. Get the Facts. They prey on crustaceans by using pairs of rocks to crush the outer shells, easily accessing the soft flesh inside. Their sleek, streamlined bodies are perfect for diving and swimming. The infamous Exxon Valdez spill killed at least several hundred sea otters and affected the sea otter population in Prince William Sound for well over a decade, according to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. Here are four essential facts about sea otters: They’re the largest member of the weasel family Mustelidae, a family of fur-bearing mammals that … The most gregarious by far are sea otters, which are polygynous (males mate with multiple females). The large hind feet are broad and flipperlike. Sea otters can spend their entire life in water. Jennifer Kennedy, M.S., is an environmental educator specializing in marine life. Sea otters are the smallest fully marine mammal in the world: Males range in length between 3.9–4.9 feet, while females range between 3.3–4.6 feet. They will use rocks to open food like clams, sea urchins and crabs. Swollen, murky waters also make swimming more difficult, forcing the animals onto busy roads. Otters have a dense fur made up of a combination of undercoat and longer guard hairs that provides insulation, but it must be almost continuously maintained. Young sea otters have a form of extremely woolly fur that makes an otter pup so buoyant that it can't dive underwater and can float off if not tended carefully. Winter brings many other dangers to otters. Sea otters have a baggy patch of skin under their forelimbs which is used for storage. Sea otters can sometimes be seen off sandy beaches — and even local harbors. There are 13 known species of otters, which range in size from 2.9 feet (90 cm) all the way to 5.9 feet (1.8 m) long! Floating on its back, it opens mollusks by smashing them on a stone balanced on its chest. They spend the majority of their lives on their backs, only flipping over onto their fronts when greater speed is required. Warm air trapped in a sea otter’s fur keeps them warm in chilly waters.When otters dive, they seal their ears and nose.The word otter comes from Old English and Indo European root words that were also used to create the English word for water.Otters have the densest fur in the world. Sea otters inhabit temperate coastal waters with rocky or soft sediment ocean bottom. For the Love of Sea Otters. FactsKing.com / Animal Facts / 8 Top Predators of Sea Otters that Eat Sea Otter Sea otters are sea mammals native to the eastern and northern parts of the North Pacific Ocean. Thanks! Sea otters first became protected from the fur trade by the International Fur Seal Treaty in 1911, after the population had decreased to about 2,000 as a result of unrestrained hunting for furs. The sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Female sea otters become sexually mature at about 3 or 4 years of age; males do so at 5 or 6 although most males don't establish a territory until they are 7 or 8. Coastal otters frequent intertidal zones in search of blennies, eels, rockling, crabs and other crustaceans, and are easy to spot when on the shore. When sea otter populations are healthy, urchin populations are kept in check, and kelp is abundant. 4. But that isn't an issue for the talented sea otter, which cracks open the shells by banging them with rocks. The northern sea otters can weigh as much as 100 pounds. And going by a plethora of YouTube videos, we can now add juggling rocks to the list. Because they are dependent on their fur for warmth, sea otters are heavily affected by oil spills. SeaOtters.com is dedicated to raising awareness about California’s threatened sea otters and inspiring the public to view wildlife responsibly. They prey on sea urchins that feed on kelp. In California, the weight of a female is 45 lbs and of a male otte… The ECOS Environmental Conservation Online System lists both northern and southern sea otters as threatened. Fun Facts for Kids. When on water, these groups are called rafts, and the largest one ever recorded contained up to 2,000 sea otters. Sea otters in the U.S. today are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. You can see why only 50 per cent of youngsters survive to see the spring. Kelp provides shelter for sea otters and their pups and a variety of other marine organisms. They like to eat sea … The food sea otters eat can impact the entire ecosystem in which they live. However, fur is an inflexible insulation, so, when necessary, sea otters cool off by flapping their nearly-hairless rear flippers. Peter Burka / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0. Otter is a common name for a carnivorous mammal in the subfamily Lutrinae. Otters are adorable creatures that live both on land and in the water. Thirteen different species exist around the globe. This makes up for its lack of blubber in the cold Pacific water. Sea Otter Facts & Information Sea otters are members of the weasel family (Mustelidae). Populations in Canada and California are now doing well. Sea otters use rocks to remove prey from their shells. 12 Facts about Otters for Sea Otter Awareness Week 1. They have long whiskers, small ear flaps, and two small black eyes. An Analysis of Sea Otters and Kelp Forests, M.S., Resource Administration and Management, University of New Hampshire, B.S., Natural Resources, Cornell University. The males of this subspecies weigh around 65 pounds while females are 45 pounds in weight. The U. With the giant otters of the Amazon growing up to 2m in length, you can imagine that they can swim pretty speedily when they want to! Some are small river otters, and some are bigger sea otters. Tips for spotting a sea otter. If there is a decline in sea otters due to natural predation or other factors such as an oil spill, urchin populations explode. The average body mass for males is about 88 pounds, with a range of 49–99 pounds; females range from 31–73 pounds. The behaviour is likely to be linked to the animals’ use of rocks to detach prey from the seabed and break it open. Sea otters have been found to play a pivotal role in the habitat and marine life that inhabit a kelp forest. Otters live in a wide variety of watery locations, from the mighty Amazon to the heart of Singapore. By entering your details, you are agreeing to Discover Wildlife terms and conditions and privacy policy. Otters are expert hunters. In fact, sea otters are one of the only mammals (apart from primates) to have developed tool use. Research has shown that sea otters are vital to the health of carbon-absorbing kelp forests. The answer varies by species and location. Many are mostly solitary apart from the breeding season, whereas others live in groups all year round. Sea otters can grow between 34 and 60 inches in length. They typically use rocks and empty shells to feed on marine snails, crabs, sea urchins and mussels. Winter brings many challenges for Eurasian otters. Otters are part of the Mustelidae family, which is a family of carnivorous... 3. While mothers and pups are usually solitary, sea otters can form social groups of up to a few dozen. As top predators, sea otters are critical to maintaining the balance of nearshore ecosystems, such as kelp forests, embayments and estuaries. Sea otters are the heaviest of the 13 otter species (giant otters are the longest). 1. There are 13 species of otter found all around the world. Other than natural predators, threats to sea otters include pollution, diseases, parasites, entanglement in marine debris, and boat strikes. When on water, these groups are called rafts, and the largest … The animal’s enamel contains additional layers of a protein-rich gel that works to prevent cracks from spreading. Sea otters eat 25% of their body weight in food every day. Indeed, research suggests that the sea otter’s bite force may not be sufficient to open the hardest-shelled prey items, hence their use of tools. National Geographic: Sea Otter 2. In appearance, sea otters are stouter and have larger rib cages, smaller tails and blunter muzzles than other species of otters. Sea Otter Facts California’s southern sea otter has been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 1977. Sea otters can reach 9kph underwater, North American river otters are faster at 11kph, and the maximum speed of the giant river otter is an impressive 14kph. Under their arms, Sea otters have built in pockets. The largest of this weasel family, sea otters weigh 31-100 lb (14-45 kg). Otter watching involves perseverance. Some of them are quite common and easy to see in the right places, but others are extremely rare and very difficult to find. Otters can be found in unpolluted waters all over the world in marshland, freshwater rivers, lakes, oceans and coastlines. Sea otter facts There is one species of sea otter and three subspecies, the California or Southern sea otter is found off the central coast of California, the Northern sea otter is found in the waters off Alaska and Canada, and the common or Asian sea otter is found along coastlines of Japan and Russia. Eurasian otters have staged a remarkable comeback in the UK, where they’re now once again present in every single county. It is made up of a waterproof top layer and a short underlayer, which can contain as many as one million hairs per square inch. They are known to eat clams, mussels, crabs, octopus, sea urchins, snails, and fat innkeeper worms. Here are few life facts you should know about Sea Otters! The otters lie on their backs and pat the stones into the air, catching them and rolling them skilfully around their chests and necks. However, they do spend most if not all of their lives in the water—Sea otters even give birth in the water. Female otters live 15–20 years and can have pups every year from the first estrus; males live for 10–15 years. Most critically, they are a keystone species, meaning that their continued existence is required for several other species to survive. As you already know, Otters hold hands while eating and sleeping so they don’t lose each other. The sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is rare, completely marine otter. It’s not unusual to see a mother otter with her cubs, but families aside, it depends on the species. They’re renowned for preying on hard-shelled marine invertebrates, including abalones, sea urchins, clams, mussels and crabs, usually fracturing the shells with their teeth. To be fair, it’s more keepy-uppy than juggling, albeit keepy-uppy with two or three rocks at a time. On a river it is vital to check for signs during winter when the vegetation has died back. Recreational juggling may be a playful way of learning how best to manipulate these tools. Most females have only one pup at a time. They are native to the northern coastlines of the Pacific Ocean, from northern Japan to Baja, Mexico. Sea otters have several adaptations that allow them to live in a marine environment. There are 13 otter species around the world, including the giant river otters, North American river otter, Asian small-clawed otter, European otter, Japanese river otter and African clawless otter, as well as many less well known species. In a kelp forest, sea urchins can graze on the kelp and eat their holdfasts, resulting in deforesting the … Kelp forests absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and a healthy forest can absorb as much as 12 times the amount of CO2 from the atmosphere than if it were subject to sea urchin predation. Their forefeet are small and dexterous with retractile claws and the flipper-like hind feet are broad and webbed. The females enter estrus again within several days to weeks after weaning. Sea otters will eat virtually anything they can get their little paws on. Because they are not exposed to predators, and do not have to forage for prey, they are provided with environmental enrichment in their habitat to keep them entertained. Hand-holding keeps the otters … A sea otter rests on its back with its head, arms and flippers in the air, and looks like two lumps close together. They typically use a rock as an anvil and repeatedly bash their prey against it until the shell cracks open, then extract the meat from the shell with their canines. Many species of river-dwelling otter can swim quite quickly – they have to be strong swimmers to catch fish and fight the flow of the river. Only adult males establish territories, which they patrol during mating season to keep out other adult males. This ancient religion considered otters to be the dogs of the river or sea and had strict rules forbidding the killing of otters. Sea otters give birth in water. They can keep extra food in this spot, and also store a favorite rock for cracking the shell of their prey. 3. There are 13 species in total, ranging from the small-clawed otter to the giant otter. Since then, sea otter populations have rebounded, but the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as a whole as Endangered. The energy demands of a sea otter mother increases by 17 per cent after giving birth. But the sea otter’s habitat is unique, as they only live in shallow coastal waters in the North Pacific ocean. The mother will produce milk, hunt and teach the pup how to dive for food until the youngster is five to eight months old and can fend for itself. Adults weigh up to 99 pounds and are the weasel family’s heaviest animals, but strangely the smallest of all marine mammals. Females rove freely between and among male territories. This thick fur keeps the animals warm ​but unfortunately has led to over-hunting by humans of many of these mustelid species. Some of the best known are the giant otter, the sea otter, the European otter, the Northern river otter among others. North American sea otters are something of a recent success story after they were brought close to extinction in the 19th century, widely hunted for their fur. Here are some surprising yet cute facts about them. Adult sea otters typically weigh between 14 and 45 kg (31 and 99 lb), making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, but among the smallest marine mammals. Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are an easily recognized and beloved marine mammal. 2. Mint Images - Frans Lanting / Getty Images, Gulf of Maine Cod Project, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries / National Archives, The Family Otariidae: Characteristics of Eared Seals and Sea Lions, 5 Environmental Consequences of Oil Spills, Harp Seal Facts (Pagophilus groenlandicus), Neritic Zone: Definition, Animal Life, and Characteristics, Bald Eagles and Sea Otters in the Aleutian Archipelago: Indirect Effects of Trophic Cascades, Northern Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni), Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis), Do Trophic Cascades Affect the Storage and Flux of Atmospheric Carbon? Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2020 – The People’s Choice Award, Namibian fishing laws cut seabird deaths by more than 90%, Tiger guide: species facts, how they hunt and where to see in the wild, Jaguar guide: how to identify, where to see and conservation. While mothers and pups are usually solitary, sea otters can form social groups of up to a few dozen. Sea Otter Sea otters are a keystone species, meaning their role in their environment has a greater effect than other species. Sea otters are the only fully aquatic form of otters, but they share features with the others such as thick fur and short ears. A sea otter’s pelt is the thickest of any mammal. They have furry bodies, whiskered faces, and a propensity to lay on their backs and float on the water, a behavior that humans perceive as evidence of fun-loving. Even a baby sea otter can stay warm on the open ocean, but they do need some help from their mothers. As predators that are near the top of the food chain, otters are hugely important for keeping their environments balanced. Instead of blubber, the sea otter keeps itself warm with its dense coat. And you definitely don’t want to mess with giant otters, just check out this clip below! It takes 8–10 weeks for the pup to shed its initial fur and learn to dive and the pup stays with the mother for up to six months after birth. 1. While sea otter populations increased after legal protections were put in place, there have been recent declines in sea otters in the Aleutian Islands (thought to be from orca predation) and a decline or plateau in the populations in California. Additional resources 1. Currently the southern sea otter population is estimated at just above 3,000 animals. Why do sea otters always a carry a stone with them? Their fur is the densest of any animal with about 100,000 hairs per square centimeter. Upon returning to the surface, they float on their backs, with the rock on the stomachs. Facts about Sea otters June 23, 2017 June 23, 2017 admintag Being on the shore or resting in the water, sea otters take care of their chic fur for a long time, comb and smooth it. Sea otters often float at the water's surface in forests of kelp, or giant seaweed, and entangle themselves to keep from moving in the rolling sea. Most sea otters measure less than 50 inches. If conditions are mild and wet, cubs can drown in flooded holts. Sea otters often float at the water's surface, lying on their backs in a posture of serene repose. The female sea otters are smaller as they grow up to 4.7 feet in length and weigh up to 73 pounds. However, when tackling species with the heaviest armour, such as as marine snails and thick-shelled bivalves, sea otters often employ tools. Before a mother otter leaves to forage for her pup, she wraps the pup in a piece of kelp to keep it anchored in one spot. Diet. Sea otters are carnivores in the family Mustelidae —a group of animals that also includes terrestrial and... Habitat and Distribution. She serves as the executive director of the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation. Unlike some marine mammals like whales that would die if they were on land for too long, sea otters can go up onto land to rest, groom, or nurse. They sleep this way, often gathered in groups. This was stopped by the establishment of the International Fur Seal Treaty in 1911. And very impressive it is, too – they can even do it with their eyes closed. They're hungry animals! Healthy river systems in the UK may boast equally vibrant populations of otters as typical coastal habitat, but riparian otters are usually harder to spot due to high levels of human and dog disturbance, dense vegetation and the fact that it is more challenging to see otters hunting in fast moving rivers than on the sea. Population numbers are only partially recovered from their low point. The species has no seasonal fur variation, so expends far more heat and energy swimming and diving in colder waters despite its dense, double-layered coat. You're now subscribed to our newsletter. Discover our favourite incredible otter facts, including facts about sea otters, perhaps the cutest of them all. 90% of all sea otters live on the coast of Alaska. National Geographic: North American River Otter 3. Generally, the male sea otters grows from 3.11 to 4.11 feet in length and weighs around 49 to 99 pounds. Sea Otter Facts. They have webbed feet, water-repellent fur to keep them dry and warm, and nostrils and ears that close in the water. Sea otters dive to rocky reefs, where they collect invertebrates and also a large rock. An Amazing Animal: 3 Sea Otter Facts. What’s more, these coastal otters live their lives according to the tides, while river otters are usually most active at night. Temperature balance is a significant challenge for sea otters, who lack the blubber of other marine mammals such as seals and walruses. River or sea and had strict rules forbidding the killing of otters 25 % of their prey carnivorous! Float on their backs, with the rock on the coast of Alaska Amazon. Subspecies weigh around 65 pounds while females are in estrus million hairs square! Strict rules forbidding the killing of otters again present in every single county entering your details, you agreeing! 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