Sea Otters Again

January 13, 2009
Sea Otters Again

Sea Otter:
Enhydra lutris

Distribution: Coastal waters of California, Western Alaska, the Commander and Kurile Islands, north of Japan.

Habitat: Kelp Beds

Size: Up to 5 feet long, including a 1 foot long tail. Weighs up to 100lb.

Gestation: 8-9 months. Sexually mature at 3 years, mating can take place all year round.
Diet: Sea urchins, crabs, abalones and other shellfish, also fish and octopus.
The sea otter is an almost exclusively marine animal, spending little time ashore. Its fur is thick and glossy and ranges in colour from black to dark brown, with some white tipped hairs. The large, blunt head, throat and chest are all creamy white. Its ears are almost hidden in its fur and its eyes are small. Sea otters are propelled through the water using their long, well-defined flipper-like hind feet. The forelegs are comparatively small, with five-fingered forepaws, which are used to grasp shell fish and other prey.

The sea otter is the only carnivore to have four incisor teeth in its lower jaw. These are used to break open the shells of crabs, sea urchins and other shellfish.

It is also unusual in that it has no layer of fat or blubber under the skin. Instead, air trapped inside the thick fur provides insulation and prevents excessive heat loss. Up to 10% of a sea otter's life is occupied with the cleaning and grooming of its fur. If the fur is damaged or polluted with oil, it loses its effectiveness, so the sea otter may die from cold and exposure.

Their luxurious coats brought sea otters to the brink of extinction. Killer whales and sharks are their natural predators, but humans have proved to be by far their biggest enemies. In the 18th century they were mercilessly exploited by European fur hunters until only a few were left.

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Sea Otters

November 24, 2008
Sea otters may look like seals, but they are different.
Life Cycle of a Sea Otter
A sea otter pups are born in early spring. Newborn sea otters range in weight from 3 to 5 lbs. Sea otter pups are typically born in the water. After a few weeks, young sea otters can be found swimming, diving, grooming themselves, and also beginning to eat solid foods. Young sea otters are very curious and play in a rough way. Between five and eight months of age, sea otters leave their mother to make it on their ...

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