This allows other marine, and even terrestrial animals, to have abundant amounts of prey. In fact, at 850,000 to one million hairs per square inch, they have the thickest fur of any mammal. Female sea otters reach sexual maturity at 2–5 years of age. The largest otter is the giant otter. They are mostly found in Kamchatka and the major islands; however the growth of their population has recently slowed down, because it has reached the country´s capacity to sustain this species. Their coat is made up of several layers. Sea otters live in shallow coastal waters in the northern Pacific. Their inner cover is shorter, and has the property of trapping air to form an insulating layer against cold water since they don´t  have insulating fat. Northern sea otters are found in the Aleutian Islands, South Central and Southeast Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington. The ESA creates rules on how to treat existing populations of endangered and threatened animals, and prohibits buying, selling or possessing any part of species or object made of them. Otters (both sea and river otters) play a notable role in the animal food chain. They regularly shed snails attached to the algae and can dig in mud for clams. Sea Cucumbers: Characteristics, reproduction, habitats and more. The Marine otter lack of a thick skin of fat, unlike other marine mammals. It is common for them to suffer deterioration in their teeth when they are in their habitats, which is thought to shorten their lives. A sign that biodiversity is essential. Fo… Other studies say that their vision of sight is useful in both water and land, but is not as developed as that of seals. This, in turn, provides shelter for sea otter pups and a variety of other marine life, including fish. When courting, males tend to swim upside down, moving faster than normal. Sea otters must eat approximately 25% of their weight in food each day to support their high metabolism. They can walk but in a somewhat clumsy way, usually moving with small jumps. Washington, DC 20036 The otter is one of the few mammals that use tools. But above all, those rich forests of marine algae, enriched by the activity of the sea otters, play a key role in the maintenance of global environmental health. In fact, it is now recognized that sea otters are a key species, whose position in the food chains is crucial to maintain the ecological health of an area. Not only do they ensure the health of algae forests but they also affect many other local species that grow in seaweed forests, such as mussel beds, for example. Many of the different species of Otters have been heavily hunted in the past. (41 kilograms).The smallest otter is the Asian small-clawed otter, which grows up to 2.9 fee… They eat about 25% of their weight in food each day due to their accelerated metabolism. At the beginning of the twentieth century, only 2,000 animals remained. In 1989 an independent colony was discovered on the coast of British Columbia, which had about 300 individuals who according to some investigators could be transported otters who survived the fur trade. Their current scientific name Emhydra Lutris was given in 1922, and means otter in the water. They have a smaller skull with a long face and small teeth. Their environment has been protected by means of some protected areas in the USA, Russia and Canada. After childbirth, the female observes her puppy and prepares his fur on her chest during the first hours. The oceans’ pollution, affects deeply the sea otters’, since endangers their food sources, and directly harms them. Males weigh up to 90 lbs. Their measurements vary depending on the sex. They live mainly in coastal waters that have a depth of fifteen to twenty meters. Their fur actually consists of two layers, an undercoat and longer guard hairs. habitat and more…, Ghost-Crystal Shrimps: Everything you should know about them. Sea Otters have a large and flat head; large teeth that can be used to crush shells; a blunt nose with long and stiff whiskers; black eyes and very small ears. Its scientific name is Emhydra Lutris Lutris Linneo, and it is also called Asian sea otter. The range of marine otters’ habitat is expanding due to the lack of food in its current range. The molars are flattened and rounded and are used to crush and not to cut. They are the only mammals that can lift and turn rocks at the bottom of the sea, action that  they carry out continuously to look for prey. This study determined the importance of the sea otter as a keystone species of the Alaskan Islands by comparing and analyzing sea otter populations, sea urchin density, and kelp forest density over multiple decades. Finally, we are working with state and federal agencies and other groups to maintain, increase and broaden the current protections for sea otters so they can expand their population along more of California’s coastal waters. The southern sea otter population, which once numbered about 16,000 animals, is hovering around 3,000 today. Sea otters protect kelp forests from damage by sea urchins. There are three known subspecies of sea otters, which differ only by their body´s size and some other individual characteristics of  their teeth  and skulls. Unfortunately, at the limit of their range, sea otters bitten by sharks now account for more than half of the dead animals found. When found near a female, the male tries to hug her or sniff her body. Sea otters are considered a keystone species because of this effect. Sea otters breed throughout the year, but in Alaska most pups are born in the late spring. In 2006, Defenders of Wildlife worked with California lawmakers on legislation that established the California Sea Otter Fund, a voluntary contribution option on the state tax forms. In these areas polluting actions such as the dumping of oil residues are prohibited. sea otters affect sea urchins and kelp forests over an extended period of time. This species has the widest distribution of all the Lontra … The tail is short and sto… The sea otters can close their  nostrils and their auditory passages in the water. They depend exclusively on their dense fur to protect themselves from the cold. The Northern Pacific Ocean is the primary location where you will find the Sea Otter. After the urchins’ prime predator, the Aleutian sea otter became nearly extinct in the 1990s. It spends its days floating and foraging among kelp forests, along the outer coves and bays. The females are slightly smaller. The fur is lighter on the otter's head, throat and chest. When the sea otters of the North American west coast were hunted commercially for their fur, their numbers fell to such low levels – fewer than 1000 in the north Pacific ocean – that they were unable to control the sea urchin population. Since both organisms are benefitting this is … The sea otter is an iconic species, emblematic of the beauty and diversity of life in Monterey Bay. As in the case of many species of seals  the sea otters were hunted by their fur to the point of almost extinction. Sea otters also have thick, brown fur that insulates them against the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean. There are 13 species in total, ranging from the small-clawed otter to the giant otter. Otter Species Sea Otter African Clawless Otter European Otter Giant Otter Northern River Otter The Sea Otter is one of the smallest marine mammals. There are 13 species of otters, in seven genera, according to Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). Northern sea otters are found in the Aleutian Islands, South Central and Southeast Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington. This system traps a layer of air next to their skin so their skin does not get wet. Newborn otters are extremely defenseless because they are blind and not very mobile. Sea otters are the textbook example of a “keystone” species and have a considerable impact on the structure and complexity of their nearshore ecological community. It is believed that there are around 150,000 and 300,000 specimens along the North Pacific from northern Japan to Baja California in Mexico. The dense fur of the sea otter made its pelt extremely valuable to fur traders, which led to overexploitation of the species in the 1700s and 1800s. If the female is interested, she starts spinning on the ground and fiddles for a while. According to several statistics in 2004 there were about 3,000 animals in this area. A group or raft of sea otters off the west coast of Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. By maintaining healthy kelp forests, sea otters also indirectly help to reduce levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a prevalent greenhouse gas, as kelp absorbs and sequesters carbon. California’s southern sea otter has been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 1977. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); It is time to learn all what you ever wanted about these beautiful and lovely creatures called sea otters. We also worked to end to the translocation program, which moved sea otters to San Nicolas Island, and the associated No-Otter Zone. As for males, they reach sexual maturity when they are between 5-7 years of age. The struggles between sea otters are not frequent and they have a varied vocal behavior. The sea otter eats sea urchins which if there is a large population makes the kelp endangered. In the North, their distribution is limited by Arctic ice edges, and may also be in areas with drifting ice, but it quite hard for them to survive on fixed ice. As it travels through the fallopian tubes from the ovary to the uterus, it divides several times and then reaches a stage called a blastocyst. The outer one is hair, and is long and waterproof, so it helps the bottom layer to stay dry, as well as insulates the cold water completely and limits heat loss. These groups are made up of ten to one hundred individuals. While sea otters are vulnerable to natural environmental changes, their populations are significantly impacted by several human factors as well. The ESA developed a law  in 1973 to protect endangered and threatened American species, which requires recording the species in danger of extinction as well as making plans for their recovery. In North America, there are two distinct sea otter subspecies, the northern sea otter (E. l. kenyoni) and the southern sea otter (E. l. nereis). These otters inhabit Alaska and the western Pacific coast, from the Aleutian Islands to British Columbia, northern Oregon and Washington. Adult sea otters have 32 teeth. Direct conflict with humans, through shootings, fishing gear entanglements and boat strikes, take a toll on sea otters, but oil spills, pollution, disease and loss of kelp pose major threats. Their beautiful fur is a main target for many hunters. If you live in California, donate to the California Sea Otter Fund when you file your taxes. But there was a positive result in Washington between 1969 and 1970, with the constant increase of their range of distribution and population. Once the kelp dies it floats up and provides the sea otter with a source of food. A similar ecological dance plays out in bays and sloughs, where otters eat various types of crabs, which eat sea slugs. Hunted to near extinction in the 18th and 19th centuries, sea otters finally gained protections with the signing of the International Fur Seal Treaty of 1911. Most are small, with short ears and noses, elongated bodies, long tails, and soft, dense fur. After the fertilization takes place, the egg undergoes a series of changes. Sea Otter & Kelp The sea otter and kelp also have a mutualistic relationship. They move with small jumps, and spend a long period of time grooming (up to 10% of their time,), cleaning their coats with their paws and have good reasons to do this: it helps them to remain waterproof and isolated against the cold. While sea otters are vulnerable to natural predators, their populations are also significantly affected by several human factors, Such as those mentioned below. As prey, otters provide a great source of nutrients to animals that hunt them for food. This is why conservation efforts are in place to help them continue to survive. Defenders helped pass a state law that mandated warning signs on containers of “flushable” kitty litter. In their role as predators, otters help regulate the local population of the organisms they consume. Today, sea  otters are protected by several laws. A sea otter’s tool of choice: typically a rock that … Some scientists suggest that their smelling sense is more important for them than their sense of vision, especially when they are under surveillance. It grows from 4.9 to 5.9 feet (1.5 to 1.8 meters) long. Worldwide, numbers have recovered slowly but are still far below the original population numbers. This phase usually lasts between two and three months. It is said that the sea otter is sociable and playful although they spend most of their time alone. In the habitats from which they have disappeared for any reason, the sea urchins, (their main prey) obviously increase in size and number with devastating consequences. They often rest in coastal kelp forests, draping the kelp over their bodies to keep from drifting away. Although they usually hunt individually, it is not weird to see them resting together in groups of the same sex called Rafts. Males become sexually mature at 4–6 years of age. The sea otters have a flexible skeleton and their face is small and round. As top predators, sea otters are critical to maintaining the balance of nearshore ecosystems, such as kelp forests, embayments and estuaries. Even groups of more than two thousand individuals have been seen resting at the same time, and it is believed that this practice is carried out to avoid being dragged by the sea and get lost adrift. This information was provided by James Estes, an American marine biologist who has studied wildlife in the North Pacific Ocean for the past 45 years. The otters’ rate of growth is very slow. In turn, these grazers provide food for predators, such as sea otters and certain species of sea stars like the sunflower star. Large-scale hunting, part of the Maritime Fur Trade, which would eventually kill approximately one million sea otters, began in the 18th century when hunters and traders began to arrive from all over the world to meet foreign demand for otter pelts, which were one of the world's most valua… A few years later, the Swedish botanist Carlos Linnaeus (May 23, 1707-January 10, 1778) also described them in his work Systema Naturae which was written in 1758. During the reproduction cycle, the females are nicknamed Rudolph because after mating the female’s nose is a bloody red. There is no other choice than to love them. Sea otters are often contaminated with toxic pollutants and disease-causing parasites as a result of runoff in coastal waters. But if sea otters are abundant, they eat sea urchins and keep the urchin population in check, which allows kelp to flourish. 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). Their mating system is polygamous and they show a highly significant sexual dimorphism. To keep the heat of their bodies, these creatures tend to groom themselves in order to keep their cover in good condition. Sea otters are semi-aquatic mammals belonging to the subfamily Lutrinae, and the Mustelidae family (the same of the weasels) and stand out for their playful behavior. How sea otters contribute to this complex ecosystem. They have a kind of pocket that forms with loose skin extended through their thorax, in which they keep their food while they are submerged and then come out to the surface and feed as they float on their backs. Historically, sea otters numbered between 150,000 and 300,000 animals throughout the Pacific Rim. In the years 2004 and 2007 were conducted population studies, according to which there are around the world an approximately 107,000 specimens. Litter Size: Generally one pup, but sea otters can give birth to twins. Wild sea otters typically have a lifespan between 15 and 20 years. 1-800-385-9712. What Happened This Year in the CA Legislature. Southern sea otters, also called California sea otters, live in waters along the California coastline, ranging from San Mateo County in the north to Santa Barbara County in the south. Though it is the largest, it isn’t the heaviest. Gov. Sea otters are members of the weasel or mustelid family. The mating only lasts between 15 and 30 minutes, which tend to be very vigorous and intense for both women and men. The females have two breasts in the abdomen and their tails are very short slightly flattened and muscular. Worldwide, sea otters have slowly recovered but still stand far below their historical population numbers. 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