This week we celebrate sea otters with the Sea Otter Awareness Week. The days dedicated to these adorable sea creatures are September 18th to 24th.
Interesting Facts About Sea Otters
Sea otters are elusive and don’t usually like to interact with humans, but we still have some fun facts about them!
- Sea otters live in environments that range from the northern coasts of Alaska down to central California. They are also found in parts of Russia, Japan, and China.
- Sea otters are the only marine mammals that use tools! They will often go after clams and other shellfish by smashing their shells open on stones or rocks on the ocean floor.
- Sea otters are not “sea” otters. Rather, they are called sea lions.
- Sea otters have two front legs for swimming and the other two legs for walking on land. They may be the only species that has eccentrically placed front paws! They also have a tail that acts as a counterbalance for going over slippery surfaces such as rocks or logs.
- Sea otters can range from 1 – 2 ft (0.3 – 0.6 m) in length, including the tail, and weigh between 22 -45 pounds (10.0 – 20.0 kg).
- Sea otters have very dense fur! They can have 850 hair shaft fibers per square inch (7,850 cm2). This density of fur allows them to remain warm even when they are in cold water.
- Unlike other mammals, sea otters have a “warm” fur color that helps them blend in with the ocean’s kelp forests for protection and camouflage.
- Sea otters have unique dental construction to help them eat shellfish that can be difficult to chew. They use their upper teeth to break up hard shells and the lower teeth to scrape out meat from inside.
- Sea otters are marine mammals that are native to the eastern and northern North Pacific oceans.
- The are the heaviest members of the weasel family, but the smallest in the marine mammal family.
- They usually inhabit the nearshore environments where they dive to the seafloor for food. Their usual diet has consisted of urchins, mollusks, crustaceans, and some fish.
- Sea otters were nearly driven to extinction in the 18th and 19th century, but after they survived that was threatened again in the 1980s by the massive oil spills. They are strong and endurable animals and have managed to survive many catastrophes. In the past, their numbers in the world were up to a million, but due to today’s fur trade, their numbers are going down and today are estimated to be around 100 000. Out of these 100 000, around 3000 live just in California.
- Sea otters spend most of their lives in the water and can dive up to 330 feet when looking for food. Sea otters are known to be one of the few mammals that build and use tools. They are seen to use rocks and small objects in order to pry the shellfish from the rocks and hammer them open.
- They mate throughout the whole year and the gestation period is 6-8 months. They usually give birth to one pup, but sometimes there can be twins.
- The most common threats to sea otters are oil spills, shark attacks, degradation of habitat and lack of food, and of course the conflict with humans (shooting for sport and for the fur industry).
- Take this week to learn more about sea otters and their behavior, watch documentaries and share with friends what you have learned.
If you want to learn more, visit the website “Sea Otter Awareness Week”.
Happy Sea Otter Awareness Week!
If you liked this article, read our article on “National Deaf Dog Awareness Week” on our blog.
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