[133][134] A record number of sea otter carcasses were found on California's coastline in 2010, with increased shark attacks an increasing component of the mortality. It ranges from two to three months in southern sea otters and can last as long as eight months in northern sea otters. It is believed that a sea otter will wrap itself with kelp before sleeping at the surface to keep itself from drifting away. This aquatic member of the weasel family is found along the coasts of the Pacific Ocean in North America and Asia. [173], Many facets of the interaction between sea otters and the human economy are not as immediately felt. [54] When eating, sea otters roll in the water frequently, apparently to wash food scraps from their fur. [46] The teeth and bones are sometimes stained purple as a result of ingesting sea urchins. [145] The fish species were usually bottom-dwelling and sedentary or sluggish forms, such as Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus and family Tetraodontidae. [91] They are found most often in areas with protection from the most severe ocean winds, such as rocky coastlines, thick kelp forests, and barrier reefs. [12] The full genome of the northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) was sequenced in 2017 and may allow for examination of the sea otter's evolutionary divergence from terrestrial mustelids. Hunting records researched by historian Adele Ogden place the westernmost limit of the hunting grounds off the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and the easternmost limit off Punta Morro Hermosa about 21.5 miles (34.6 km) south of Punta Eugenia, Baja California's westernmost headland in Mexico. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes that Southern Sea Otter Translocation Program be Terminated", "Service Proposes to End Southern Sea Otter Translocation Program", "Rare sighting of sea otter off Laguna Beach", "U.S. will let otters roam along Southern California coastline", "California's Sea Otter Numbers Continue Slow Climb", "California Sea Otter Numbers Drop Again", "Spring 2010 Mainland California Sea Otter Survey Results", "Another deadly challenge for the sea otter", "Evidence for a Novel Marine Harmful Algal Bloom: Cyanotoxin (Microcystin) Transfer from Land to Sea Otters", Spring 2014 California Sea Otter Census Results, "Otters vs. Southern Sea Otter . [94] Individuals generally occupy a home range a few kilometres long, and remain there year-round. In the eastern Pacific Ocean, E. l. kenyoni, the northern sea otter, is found from Alaska's Aleutian Islands to Oregon and E. l. nereis, the southern sea otter, is native to central and southern California. [48][49] Its digestive efficiency is estimated at 80 to 85%,[50] and food is digested and passed in as little as three hours. [3][68], Births occur year-round, with peaks between May and June in northern populations and between January and March in southern populations. It has a long, stout body with a short broad head and snout with thick whiskers on the cheeks. [115], Sea otters were once numerous in San Francisco Bay. [130][131] As of spring 2010, the northern boundary had moved from about Tunitas Creek to a point 2 km southeast of Pigeon Point, and the southern boundary has moved from approximately Coal Oil Point to Gaviota State Park. [32] The fifth digit on each hind foot is longest, facilitating swimming while on its back, but making walking difficult. [112][113][114] Their principal range has gradually expanded and extends from Pigeon Point in San Mateo County to Santa Barbara County. [121], Sea otters are a classic example of a keystone species; their presence affects the ecosystem more profoundly than their size and numbers would suggest. [55], The sea otter hunts in short dives, often to the sea floor. Lyapunova, R.G. [153] The role of sea otters in maintaining kelp forests has been observed to be more important in areas of open coast than in more protected bays and estuaries. The Alaskan subspecies have predators on land such as coyotes or brown bears. The fur of the sea otter is the densest of all mammals at about 350,000 to 1,000,000 hairs per square inch, compared to dogs that only have 1,000 to 60,000 hairs per square inch. [57] It uses its lower incisor teeth to access the meat in shellfish. The otter has a set of canine teeth as well. (20 kg) in weight. Studies on southern sea otters in California have shown that diet can be a highly individual thing, in which an otter will specialize in one to three types of prey that is not influenced directly by prey availability. Adult males are highly territorial during breeding season and will not permit other males to enter their territory. Today, southern sea otters live along the central coast of California; northern sea otters live along the coasts of Washington, Canada, and Alaska. [160] The Aleut population was reduced, by the Russians' own estimate, from 20,000 to 2,000. Sea otters balance their prey on their chest and open it with a rock. [29] The coloration of the pelage is usually deep brown with silver-gray speckles, but it can range from yellowish or grayish brown to almost black. [5] Male sea otters usually weigh 22 to 45 kg (49 to 99 lb) and are 1.2 to 1.5 m (3 ft 11 in to 4 ft 11 in) in length, though specimens up to 54 kg (119 lb) have been recorded. [121] Another group of twenty swam 74 miles (119 km) north to San Miguel Island, where they were captured and removed. The southern sea otter is dark to reddish brown in color with a lighter colored head, throat, and chest. [163], Russian hunting expanded to the south, initiated by American ship captains, who subcontracted Russian supervisors and Aleut hunters[164] in what are now Washington, Oregon, and California. [20] The Asian sea otter is the largest subspecies and has a slightly wider skull and shorter nasal bones than both other subspecies. In a 1997 survey, small numbers of sea otters, including pups, were reported by local fishermen, but scientists could not confirm these accounts. Sea otter is found along coastal areas of the northern Pacific Ocean and the southern Bering Sea. The Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. [24] It is the only marine animal capable of lifting and turning over rocks, which it often does with its front paws when searching for prey. [92] Although they are most strongly associated with rocky substrates, sea otters can also live in areas where the sea floor consists primarily of mud, sand, or silt. [96] The founder of Fort Ross, Ivan Kuskov, finding otters scarce on his second voyage to Bodega Bay in 1812, sent a party of Aleuts to San Francisco Bay, where they met another Russian party and an American party, and caught 1,160 sea otters in three months. Rodents (of which the beaver is one) are not closely related to otters, which are carnivorans. [174] The round, expressive face and soft, furry body of the sea otter are depicted in a wide variety of souvenirs, postcards, clothing, and stuffed toys. The southern sea otter, Enhydra lutris nereis, continues its climb toward recovery, according to the annual count released today by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners. It is nursed by its mother for six months to a year, but can begin foraging in shallow water habitats as soon as six weeks after birth. 2006b). [69] In California, sea otters usually breed every year, about twice as often as those in Alaska. A number of other otter species, while predominantly living in fresh water, are commonly found in marine coastal habitats. [116][117] Historical records revealed the Russian-American Company sneaked Aleuts into San Francisco Bay multiple times, despite the Spanish capturing or shooting them while hunting sea otters in the estuaries of San Jose, San Mateo, San Bruno and around Angel Island. During the 1880s, a pelt brought $105 to $165 in the London market, but by 1903, a pelt could be worth as much as $1,125. [63] During this time, males patrol the boundaries of their territories to exclude other males,[63] although actual fighting is rare. Southern sea otters off Central California prey largely on invertebrates, such as urchins, crabs, abalone, and clams. [101] In 2017 the US Geological Survey found a 3% drop in the sea otter population of the California coast. Sea otters spend most of their time near the shore. Northern sea otters possess longer mandibles (lower jaws) while southern sea otters have longer rostrums and smaller teeth. Predators of sea otters include sharks and killer whales. 2000, Tinker et al. Kelp forests sequester (absorb and capture) CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. [191], Since the mid-1970s, the beauty and charisma of the species have gained wide appreciation, and the sea otter has become an icon of environmental conservation. [86] Sea otters in the wild often develop worn teeth, which may account for their apparently shorter lifespans. Males usually raft together during non-breeding season. Dive into the world of dolphins during our awe-inspiring and educational dolphin presentation. It uses rocks, shells and other hard materials from the ocean floor as shell-crushing tools, while balancing its prey on its chest and stomach. 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. [7], Fossil evidence indicates the Enhydra lineage became isolated in the North Pacific approximately 2 million years ago, giving rise to the now-extinct Enhydra macrodonta and the modern sea otter, Enhydra lutris. [138] However, ESA delisting seems unlikely due to a precipitous population decline recorded in the spring 2017 USGS sea otter survey count, from the 2016 high of 3,615 individuals to 2,688, a loss of 25% of the California sea otter population. [140] However, male and female otters have been confirmed by scientists off shores of the Baja Peninsula in a 2014 study, who hypothesize that otter dispersed there beginning in 2005. In these cultures, many of which have strongly animist traditions full of legends and stories in which many aspects of the natural world are associated with spirits, the sea otter was considered particularly kin to humans. Found in marine habitats with rocky or muddy sea bottoms and is frequently associated with kelp forests. Sea otters dive or play dead when they sense danger, or may signal alarm by raising a forepaw. [16] Originally named Lutra marina, it underwent numerous name changes before being accepted as Enhydra lutris in 1922. Leading mammalian predators of this species include orcas and sea lions, and bald eagles may grab pups from the surface of the water. Contents. [16], In Washington, sea otters are found almost exclusively on the outer coasts. This male is thought to have originated from a colony in Washington, but disappeared after a coastal storm. In the 1980s, the area was home to an estimated 55,000 to 100,000 sea otters, but the population fell to around 6,000 animals by 2000. The short, more dense, under layer of fur can have as many as 1 million hairs per square inch, which is the densest of any … [183] Although human divers harvest red sea urchins both for food and to protect the kelp, sea otters hunt more sea urchin species and are more consistently effective in controlling these populations. Its diet includes prey species that are also valued by humans as food, leading to conflicts between sea otters and fisheries. [53], Sea otters spend much of their time grooming, which consists of cleaning the fur, untangling knots, removing loose fur, rubbing the fur to squeeze out water and introduce air, and blowing air into the fur. One animal I run into on a daily basis is one I used to take for granted. Hatch, David R. (2002) Elakha: Sea Otters, Native People, and European Colonization in the North Pacific. The southern sea otter is dark to reddish brown in color with a lighter colored head, throat, and chest. Versions of a widespread Aleut legend tell of lovers or despairing women who plunge into the sea and become otters. Wild sea otters typically have a lifespan between 15 and 20 years. Weight(M):22-45kg (F): 14-35kg (New Born): 1.4-2.3kg. [75] The milk from a sea otter's two abdominal nipples is rich in fat and more similar to the milk of other marine mammals than to that of other mustelids. They use their long, flat … Choose from high quality, high res, hd, widescreen, and other options. [51], The sea otter is diurnal. [185], For many maritime indigenous cultures throughout the North Pacific, especially the Ainu in the Kuril Islands, the Koryaks and Itelmen of Kamchatka, the Aleut in the Aleutian Islands, the Haida of Haida Gwaii[186] and a host of tribes on the Pacific coast of North America, the sea otter has played an important role as a cultural, as well as material, resource. This pouch also holds a rock, unique to the otter, that is used to break open shellfish and clams. As members of the weasel or mustelid family, southern sea otters are the smallest marine mammal. Adult males average 65 lbs. The Russians found the sea otter far more valuable than the sable skins that had driven and paid for most of their expansion across Siberia. Increasing the size and range of sea otter populations would also reduce the risk of an oil spill wiping out a population. Great for desktop, mobile, Android or iPhone backgrounds or a Facebook cover photo. ", "Divergent Skull Morphology Supports Two Trophic Specializations in Otters (Lutrinae)", "Bone Inner Structure Suggests Increasing Aquatic Adaptations in Desmostylia (Mammalia, Afrotheria)", "USFWS Species Profile: Southern sea otter (, "Lesions and Behavior Associated with Forced Copulation of Juvenile Pacific Harbor Seals (, Population dynamics and present status of sea otters (, "Sea Otters – Southwest Alaska Sea Otter Recovery Team (SWAKSORT)", "British Columbia: Sea Otter Research Expedition", "California otters rebound, but remain at risk", "Trends in the Abundance and Distribution of Sea Otters (, "Sea Otter Recovery on Vancouver Island's West Coast", "Sea otter's stay raises scientists' hopes", "Bixby Creek Bridge on Highway One from the Pat Hathaway Photo Collection", "Spring 2007 Mainland California Sea Otter Survey Results", "Are sea otters taking a bite out of California's Dungeness crab season? This population increased to over 5,600 in 2013 with an estimated annual growth rate of 7.2%, and their range on the island's west coast extended north to Cape Scott and across the Queen Charlotte Strait to the Broughton Archipelago and south to Clayoquot Sound and Tofino. Although it can hold its breath for up to five minutes,[31] its dives typically last about one minute and not more than four. [119] Remnant sea otter populations may have survived in the bay until 1840, when the Rancho Punta de Quentin was granted to Captain John B. R. Cooper, a sea captain from Boston, by Mexican Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado along with a license to hunt sea otters, reportedly then prevalent at the mouth of Corte Madera Creek. That … Jump in on a wide variety of experiences and events that will make your trip to Georgia Aquarium even more memorable. Currently the southern sea otter population is estimated at just above 3,000 animals. The sea otter is the heaviest (the giant otter is longer, but significantly slimmer) member of the family Mustelidae,[3] a diverse group that includes the 13 otter species and terrestrial animals such as weasels, badgers, and minks. Like other members of this family, they have very thick fur. Females give live birth to, normally, one pup at a time. [99] A massive decline in sea otter populations in the Aleutian Islands accounts for most of the change; the cause of this decline is not known, although orca predation is suspected. The translocated population is estimated to have declined to between 10 and 43 individuals before increasing, reaching 208 individuals in 1989. The front paws are short with retractable claws, with tough pads on the palms that enable gripping slippery prey. Southern sea otters have been killed illegally because of the belief that they compete with commercial fishers and divers collecting sea urchins commercially. The southernmost limit was Punta Morro Hermoso about 21.5 miles (34.6 km) south of Punta Eugenia, in turn a headland at the southwestern end of Sebastián Vizcaíno Bay, on the west coast of the Baja Peninsula. [181], The debate is complicated because sea otters have sometimes been held responsible for declines of shellfish stocks that were more likely caused by overfishing, disease, pollution, and seismic activity. The Southern Sea Otter is a type of mammal Friend that debuted in the original Kemono Friends mobile game. [71] Pup mortality is high, particularly during an individual's first winter – by one estimate, only 25% of pups survive their first year. Otter were also taken from San Benito Island, Cedros Island, and Isla Natividad in the Bay. [25], Unlike most other marine mammals, the sea otter has no blubber and relies on its exceptionally thick fur to keep warm. Urban runoff transporting cat feces into the ocean brings Toxoplasma gondii, an obligate parasite of felids, which has killed sea otters. [176] The Toxoplasma gondii parasite, which is often fatal to sea otters, is carried by wild and domestic cats and may be transmitted by domestic cat droppings flushed into the ocean via sewage systems. [157] Thus began what is sometimes called the "Great Hunt", which would continue for another hundred years. The southern river otter can be found in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial habitats, but are mostly found in freshwater lakes and rivers having a significant amount of dense vegetation, especially along the shorelines, which must be present to use as cover. It can chew and swallow small mussels with their shells, whereas large mussel shells may be twisted apart. [183] In some areas, sea otters are popular tourist attractions, bringing visitors to local hotels, restaurants, and sea otter-watching expeditions. Young predators may kill an otter and not eat it. Sea otters play a vital role in the health and stability of the nearshore marine ecosystem as a keystone species; Sea otter fur is the densest of any mammal at about 1 million hairs per square inch (We have 100,000 hairs on our entire head). Reintroduced populations in British Columbia and Washington state. This number still keeps them on track for removal from the endangered species list, although just barely. Sea otters spend a majority of their day eating, sleeping, and grooming. [139], Historian Adele Ogden described sea otters are particularly abundant in "Lower California", now the Baja California Peninsula, where "seven bays...were main centers". Its relatively large kidneys enable it to derive fresh water from sea water and excrete concentrated urine. Beneath our waves curious animals like Australian weedy sea dragons, garibaldi damselfish and … Enhydra lutris lutris (nominate), the Asian sea otter, ranges from the Kuril Islands north of Japan to Russia's Commander Islands in the western Pacific Ocean. [16][49][55] Prevention of oil spills and preparation to rescue otters if one happens is a major focus for conservation efforts. It must eat 20% to 25% of its body weight every day to maintain normal body temperature, so it will spend much of the day foraging. [70], Birth usually takes place in the water and typically produces a single pup weighing 1.4 to 2.3 kg (3 to 5 lb). It is unique among the mustelids in not making dens or burrows, in having no functional anal scent glands, and in being able to live its entire life without leaving the water. United States, otter origins, however one otter had a haplotype not previously reported, and could represent a remnant of the original native Mexican otter population. The pattern of disappearances is consistent with a rise in predation, but there has been no direct evidence of orcas preying on sea otters to any significant extent. [63] As autumn is the peak breeding season in most areas, males typically defend their territory only from spring to autumn. [1] The hunting of sea otters is no longer legal except for limited harvests by indigenous peoples in the United States. Reduced range and population size, vulnerability to oil spills, and oil spill risk from coastal tanker traffic were the primary reasons for listing. Distribution. This results in a higher female to male ratio in adults. Its range extended across the Aleutians to the Siberian … [165] In 1812, the Russians founded an agricultural settlement at what is now Fort Ross in northern California, as their southern headquarters. While sea otters have limited mobility on land they will typically spend their whole life in the water. JAYASRI GM, 2 days ago 0 6 min read 7 . [98] By 2004, sea otters had repopulated all of their former habitat in these areas, with an estimated total population of about 27,000. [65] Although sea otters can be playful and sociable, they are not considered to be truly social animals. [59] To open hard shells, it may pound its prey with both paws against a rock on its chest. [33], Long, highly sensitive whiskers and front paws help the sea otter find prey by touch when waters are dark or murky. (29.5 kg) and adult females average 45 lbs. Surprisingly, though, the diets of individuals were more specialized in these areas than in areas where food was plentiful. [148] The diet of local populations also changes over time, as sea otters can significantly deplete populations of highly preferred prey such as large sea urchins, and prey availability is also affected by other factors such as fishing by humans. [144], In a few northern areas, fish are also eaten. [120], In the late 1980s, the USFWS relocated about 140 southern sea otters to San Nicolas Island in southern California, in the hope of establishing a reserve population should the mainland be struck by an oil spill. [11] In some respects, though, the sea otter is more fully adapted to water than pinnipeds, which must haul out on land or ice to give birth. [66] Distressed or frightened adults may whistle, hiss, or in extreme circumstances, scream. [61] The largest raft ever seen contained over 2000 sea otters. The fifth digit or little toe is longer than all other otters, allowing the sea otter to spread its webbing wider when swimming. In marine protected areas, polluting activities such as dumping of waste and oil drilling are typically prohibited. It must eat an estimated 25 to 38% of its own body weight in food each day to burn the calories necessary to counteract the loss of heat due to the cold water environment. [197] Milo, the darker one, died of lymphoma in January 2012[198], species of marine mammal from the northern and eastern coasts of the North Pacific Ocean, At least one female is known to have died from an infected nose. (1.8-2.3 kg). The only member of the genus Enhydra, the sea otter is so different from other mustelid species that, as recently … A raft typically contains 10 to 100 animals, with male rafts being larger than female ones. This one is sixteen minutes of one southern sea otter showing rarely seen otter behaviors such as feeding specialization; hierarchical prey selection; use of search images; dive lengths and surface intervals; the use of tools and tactile and oral sensory systems used in foraging and feeding in intertidal areas in the Moss Landing Wildlife Area on February 12, 2020. (1963) "Museum materials on the Aleuts". (. Eventually, sea otter populations became so depleted, commercial hunting was no longer viable. Like their Northern Sea Otter cousins, these mammals prefer to spend their day around the massive kelp forests … Potential current threats to this protected subspecies include entanglement in fishing nets, oil spills and predation by the great white shark. [95], The sea otter population is thought to have once been 150,000 to 300,000,[19] stretching in an arc across the North Pacific from northern Japan to the central Baja California Peninsula in Mexico. Since I was born in Monterey, California I never knew a world without sea otters around. After the years of the Great Hunt, the population in these areas, currently part of Russia, was only 750. [65] Females coo when they are apparently content; males may grunt instead. They swim belly-up, moving through the water at 3-5 miles an hour with their webbed hind feet. [187], Among the Ainu, the otter is portrayed as an occasional messenger between humans and the creator. [132] Recently, a toxin called microcystin, produced by a type of cyanobacteria (Microcystis), seems to be concentrated in the shellfish the otters eat, poisoning them. The tail is short in comparison to those of other otters. Sea otter pelts were given in potlatches to mark coming-of-age ceremonies, weddings, and funerals. Russia was also exploring the far northern Pacific at this time, and sent Vitus Bering to map the Arctic coast and find routes from Siberia to North America. [195] Filmed five years previously at the Vancouver Aquarium, it was YouTube's most popular animal video at the time, although it has since been surpassed. They eat, rest, groom themselves, and breed in the water. [142][143] Its prey ranges in size from tiny limpets and crabs to giant octopuses. Behind its cute face and fluffy fur, the sea otter is an aquatic environmentalist. [109] In 2004, a male sea otter took up residence at Simpson Reef off of Cape Arago for six months. [142] Where prey such as sea urchins, clams, and abalone are present in a range of sizes, sea otters tend to select larger items over smaller ones of similar type. Enjoy new thrills, adventures and fish-filled fun each time you visit, Support our work towards research and conservation, Special Events – Covid-19 Safety Measures, Sea urchins, snails, clams, abalone, mussels, crabs, scallops, fish, barnacles, octopus, worms and squid, Northern Pacific Ocean and southern Bering Sea, Marine habitat with rocky or muddy sea bottoms and kelp forests. [121] The plan that authorized the translocation program had predicted the carrying capacity would be reached within five to 10 years.
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