However, they do spend most if not all of their lives in the water—Sea otters even give birth in the water. Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are an easily recognized and beloved marine mammal. They will use rocks to open food like clams, sea urchins and crabs. Their sleek, streamlined bodies are perfect for diving and swimming. Sea otters are social, and hang out together in groups called rafts. The U. 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. The ECOS Environmental Conservation Online System lists both northern and southern sea otters as threatened. You can unsubscribe at any time. 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 are part of the weasel family. Some of them are quite common and easy to see in the right places, but others are extremely rare and very difficult to find. You can learn all about them here – Otters of the World. There are 13 species of otter found all around the world. 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). Sea Otter Facts & Information Sea otters are members of the weasel family (Mustelidae). 1. Since then, sea otter populations have rebounded, but the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as a whole as Endangered. Not all otters use tools, but sea otters use them all the time. Populations in Canada and California are now doing well. 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. 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. Peter Burka / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0. Most critically, they are a keystone species, meaning that their continued existence is required for several other species to survive. 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. Some of the best known are the giant otter, the sea otter, the European otter, the Northern river otter among others. Their fur is the densest of any animal with about 100,000 hairs per square centimeter. Already have an account with us? Otter watching involves perseverance. Thirteen different species of otter exist all around the world. Sea otters have several adaptations that allow them to live in a marine environment. Eurasian otters have staged a remarkable comeback in the UK, where they’re now once again present in every single county. Yet, sea otters do possess the fine, dense fur coats characteristic of the Mustelidae. 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. Many are mostly solitary apart from the breeding season, whereas others live in groups all year round. They have an interesting method of eating their prey. 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. 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. The sea otter can usually be found in kelp beds, and looks very much like lumps of kelp. Their bodies are insulated by a thick fur coat and not by blubber as in other marine mammals. Some of these animals have hard shells, which protect them from predators. This was stopped by the establishment of the International Fur Seal Treaty in 1911. Because otters actually form attachments to certain stones – keeping them in an armpit when not in use – and have been known to retain their favourite ones throughout their lives, which is definitely one of our favourite sea otter facts! Sea otters are a medium-sized member of the Mustelidae family. Upon returning to the surface, they float on their backs, with the rock on the stomachs. Sea otters are the heaviest of the 13 otter species (giant otters are the longest). Other than natural predators, threats to sea otters include pollution, diseases, parasites, entanglement in marine debris, and boat strikes. Diet. 90% of all sea otters live on the coast of Alaska. Fully 10 percent of a sea otter's day is spent grooming its fur. Adults weigh up to 99 pounds and are the weasel family’s heaviest animals, but strangely the smallest of all marine mammals. There are 13 species in total, ranging from the small-clawed otter to the giant otter. 1. When sea otter populations are healthy, urchin populations are kept in check, and kelp is abundant. Sea Otter Facts California’s southern sea otter has been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 1977. Temperature balance is a significant challenge for sea otters, who lack the blubber of other marine mammals such as seals and walruses. 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. 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. However, when tackling species with the heaviest armour, such as as marine snails and thick-shelled bivalves, sea otters often employ tools. In appearance, sea otters are stouter and have larger rib cages, smaller tails and blunter muzzles than other species of otters. 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. This thick fur keeps the animals warm ​but unfortunately has led to over-hunting by humans of many of these mustelid species. 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. 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. If there is a decline in sea otters due to natural predation or other factors such as an oil spill, urchin populations explode. The energy demands of a sea otter mother increases by 17 per cent after giving birth. The average body mass for males is about 88 pounds, with a range of 49–99 pounds; females range from 31–73 pounds. For the Love of Sea Otters. 2. Sea otter, (Enhydra lutris), rare, completely marine otter of the northern Pacific, usually found in kelp beds. As you already know, Otters hold hands while eating and sleeping so they don’t lose each other. Floating on its back, it opens mollusks by smashing them on a stone balanced on its chest. The answer varies by species and location. Instead of blubber, the sea otter keeps itself warm with its dense coat. You're now subscribed to our newsletter. Sea otter is the heaviest and the second smallest aquatic member of weasel family. Many otters eat tough food, particularly sea otters that inhabit the shallow coastal waters of the northern Pacific. As predators that are near the top of the food chain, otters are hugely important for keeping their environments balanced. When on water, these groups are called rafts, and the largest one ever recorded contained up to 2,000 sea otters. The female sea otters are smaller as they grow up to 4.7 feet in length and weigh up to 73 pounds. Sea otters inhabit temperate coastal waters with rocky or soft sediment ocean bottom. While mothers and pups are usually solitary, sea otters can form social groups of up to a few dozen. 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. Otters are part of the Mustelidae family, which is a family of carnivorous... 3. At birth, the weight of a pup is 3 to 5 pounds. They are native to the northern coastlines of the Pacific Ocean, from northern Japan to Baja, Mexico. In environments where sea otter populations have been reintroduced, tall kelp forests are flourishing. Research has shown that sea otters are vital to the health of carbon-absorbing kelp forests. This makes up for its lack of blubber in the cold Pacific water. And going by a plethora of YouTube videos, we can now add juggling rocks to the list. Their teeth are strong enough to crunch open a clam shell or bite through a sea urchin's spines. The most gregarious by far are sea otters, which are polygynous (males mate with multiple females). Only adult males establish territories, which they patrol during mating season to keep out other adult males. Some are small river otters, and some are bigger sea otters. 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. But that isn't an issue for the talented sea otter, which cracks open the shells by banging them with rocks. 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. The largest of this weasel family, sea otters weigh 31-100 lb (14-45 kg). 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 … Sea otters can spend their entire life in water. The sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. The large hind feet are broad and flipperlike. Get the Facts. Otters live in a wide variety of watery locations, from the mighty Amazon to the heart of Singapore. Winter brings many other dangers to otters. Their fur is brown with shades of lighter tan and yellow on the heads of adults. Sea Otter Facts. To be fair, it’s more keepy-uppy than juggling, albeit keepy-uppy with two or three rocks at a time. A sea otter rests on its back with its head, arms and flippers in the air, and looks like two lumps close together. 12 Facts about Otters for Sea Otter Awareness Week 1. This ancient religion considered otters to be the dogs of the river or sea and had strict rules forbidding the killing of otters. It is 40–65 inches (100–160 cm) long and weighs 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. Swollen, murky waters also make swimming more difficult, forcing the animals onto busy roads. The gestation period lasts for six months, and females nearly always give birth to a single live pup, although twinning does occur. They have very thick fur – near about 250,000 to one million hair per square inch. Forget everything you thought you knew about otter species. And very impressive it is, too – they can even do it with their eyes closed. Sea otters reproduce sexually and that only occurs when the females are in estrus. 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