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Sea Otter

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Sea Otter Facts

Kingdom:
Five groups that classify all living things
Animalia
Phylum:
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
Chordata
Class:
A group of animals within a pylum
Mammalia
Order:
A group of animals within a class
Carnivora
Family:
A group of animals within an order
Mustelidae
Genus:
A group of animals within a family
Enhydra
Scientific Name:
Comprised of the genus followed by the species
Enhydra Lutris
Type:
The animal group that the species belongs to
Mammal
Diet:
What kind of foods the animal eats
Omnivore
Size:
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
122-150cm (48-59in)
Weight:
The measurement of how heavy the animal is
14-45kg (30-100lbs)
Top Speed:
The fastest recorded speed of the animal
11km/h (7mph)
Life Span:
How long the animal lives for
12-15 years
Lifestyle:
Whether the animal is solitary or sociable
Solitary
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
Endangered
Colour:
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
Black, Brown, Tan
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal
Fur
Favourite Food:Sea Urchins
Habitat:
The specific area where the animal lives
Unpolluted areas close to the shore
Average Litter Size:
The average number of babies born at once
1
Main Prey:Sea Urchins, Clams, Crabs, Seaweed
Predators:
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
Sharks, Humans, Killer Whales
Special Features:Very dense fur and sharp claws

Sea Otter Location

Map of Sea Otter Locations
Map of North America

Sea Otter

The sea otter is a small marine mammal native to the north and eastern coasts of the Pacific Ocean. Despite the fact that sea otters are the largest members of the weasel family, sea otters are among the smallest mammals in the marine world.

The sea otter is known to have one of the thickest, warmest coats of fur in the animal kingdom which helps to keep the sea otter warm in the cold waters of the North Pacific. Like their smaller river otter cousins, the sea otter is able to walk and live on the land but it is not uncommon for sea otters to spend their lives exclusively in the water.

Sea otters are omnivores as they do eat seaweed and other aquatic plants. Despite this though, most sea otter individuals have a primarily carnivorous diet with sea otters known to eat more than 40 different species of marine animals. The sea otter mainly hunts sea urchins, clams, crabs, snails and small fish in the water. The sea otter is one of the few animals in the world that has the remarkable trait of using tools, such as rocks, in order to get at it's prey.

Sea otters have few natural predators in the sea due to their large size. Those sea otters that live further south are mainly preyed upon by the great white shark and those sea otters that inhabit more northern regions of the Pacific, are preyed upon by killer whales. Humans are one of the sea otters main predators as sea otters are hunted mainly for their incredibly dense fur.

Sea otters are today considered to be an endangered species are they were extensively hunted for their fur in the 18th century which meant that sea otter populations took a devastating plunge and sea otters became rarer and rarer. There are estimated to be less than 2,000 sea otter individuals left in the wild today.

There are three different species of sea otter that are recognised by science today. The common sea otter (also known as the Asian sea otter) is the largest of the tree sea otter subspecies and is found around the islands in the Western Pacific. The southern sea otter (also known as the Californian sea otter) is found off the coast of California and is known to have a narrow head and small teeth. The northern sea otter is native to Alaska and the North West of the Pacific. The northern sea otter was wiped out from the coast of British Columbia due to over hunting but has been recently reintroduced to Vancouver Island.

Unlike other marine mammals, the sea otter does not have a layer of blubber to keep it warm, so the sea otter has to rely on it's dense fur to keep the cold out. The fur of the sea otter is so thick that no water actually touches the skin of the sea otter. The sea otter's fur also consists of two layers, a waterproof layer of long guard hairs with a layer of short thick fur underneath.

Although sea otter hunt and forage for food on their own, sea otters are often seen resting together in large single-sex groups known as rafts. Typically, the average sea otter raft consists of between 10 to 100 sea otter individuals, with the largest recorded sea otter raft containing nearly 2,000 sea otter individuals.

Sea otters are known to mate all year round, but the southern sea otter is known to mate every year, which is twice as often as the northern sea otter. After a gestation period of up to a year, the mother sea otter gives birth to a single sea otter although twins are known to occur. Mother sea otters are known to nurse their pups for up to a year, by which time, the sea otter pups are able to hunt and forage for food by themselves.

Sea Otter Comments

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First Published: 17th September 2009, Last Updated: 9th January 2017 [View Sources]

Sources:
1. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 17 Sep 2009]
2. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
3. David W. Macdonald, Oxford University Press (2010) The Encyclopedia Of Mammals [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2010]
4. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 17 Sep 2009]
5. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 17 Sep 2009]
6. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 17 Sep 2009]

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