A similar ecological dance plays out in bays and sloughs, where otters eat various types of crabs, which eat sea slugs. The sea otters have a flexible skeleton and their face is small and round. The females have two breasts in the abdomen and their tails are very short slightly flattened and muscular. After four months, they follow the female on night trips for food. 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). Some scientists suggest that their smelling sense is more important for them than their sense of vision, especially when they are under surveillance. The main reason that these Otters were hunted though was for their fur. After the fertilization takes place, the egg undergoes a series of changes. Cultivation of Algae: Microalgae, Macro algae and more…, The Koi Fish legend: Learn this really beautiful and inspiring tail, Clams: Characteristics, properties, reproduction and more, Meaning of the Seahorses: What you don´t know yet, The Anatomy of Fish: Classification, body parts and more, Nori Seaweed: Properties, preparation and much more. Sea otters increase biodiversity and primary productivity of the nearshore environment by controlling populations of grazers, sea urchins in particular, which feed on kelp. 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. Sea Otter & Kelp The sea otter and kelp also have a mutualistic relationship. Sea otters are members of the weasel or mustelid family. Otters Conservation Status. Female otters give birth to one pup at a time. 97% of our funds go towards program and support services, with only 3% going towards fundraising. Gov. Northern sea otters are found in the Aleutian Islands, South Central and Southeast Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington. They are also called California Sea Otters. In turn, these grazers provide food for predators, such as sea otters and certain species of sea stars like the sunflower star. Your adoption supports our work to educate people about the need to protect sea otters, continue our efforts to protect sea otters from the threat of oil spills, and help local communities and the fishing industry live in harmony with these animals. This became necessary when researchers discovered that a protozoal parasite from flushed cat feces, Toxoplasma gondii, could pass through wastewater treatment facilities and harm sea otters. The largest otter is the giant otter. To keep the heat of their bodies, these creatures tend to groom themselves in order to keep their cover in good condition. Sea otters eat sea urchins, abalone, mussels, clams, crabs, snails and other 40 marine species. Their body has great agility to float, due to the excellent lung capacity of these otters, and the air that can trap their internal coat. 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. 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. Wild sea otters typically have a lifespan between 15 and 20 years. 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. After childbirth, the female observes her puppy and prepares his fur on her chest during the first hours. The sea otters can close their  nostrils and their auditory passages in the water. This phase usually lasts between two and three months. Decorating Aquariums : The best algae to decorate domestic aquariums…. However they also occupy to a lesser extent oceanic areas with sand, mud or muddy floors. 1130 17th Street NW The urchins in turn grazed the holdfasts of kelpso heavily that the kelp forests largely disappeared, along with all the species that depended on them. The reproduction process begins with the males wooing the females. Otter Species Sea Otter African Clawless Otter European Otter Giant Otter Northern River Otter Since both organisms are benefitting this is … 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. The females commonly whisper when they are happy, while the males groan when they are exalted. Leopard Seals: Characteristics, reproduction, habitat and more. Mating Season: Throughout the year Historically, sea otters numbered between 150,000 and 300,000 animals throughout the Pacific Rim. Unfortunately, at the limit of their range, sea otters bitten by sharks now account for more than half of the dead animals found. At least 143 species are on the IUCN red list with 210 more as data deficient ... 10 Amazing Facts About Sea Otters 10 Interesting Facts About Killer Whales, or Orcas 10 Awesome Facts About Cuttlefish 10 Fascinating Facts About Piranhas 10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Sea Sponges. In their role as predators, otters help regulate the local population of the organisms they consume. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); It is time to learn all what you ever wanted about these beautiful and lovely creatures called sea otters. They live mainly in coastal waters that have a depth of fifteen to twenty meters. Sea otters can sometimes be seen off sandy beaches — and even local harbors. Oil spills from offshore drilling or shipping are a huge threat to sea otter populations. 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. They depend exclusively on their dense fur to protect themselves from the cold. In these areas polluting actions such as the dumping of oil residues are prohibited. We supported a bill to phase out the use of drift gillnets in California waters to protect sea otters and many other marine species. They can walk but in a somewhat clumsy way, usually moving with small jumps. Most are small, with short ears and noses, elongated bodies, long tails, and soft, dense fur. Predation by sea otters on urchins has been found to maintain stability within marine invertebrate communities. But there was a positive result in Washington between 1969 and 1970, with the constant increase of their range of distribution and population. Sea otters eat urchins, abalone, mussels, clams, crabs, snails and about 40 other marine species. Their mating system is polygamous and they show a highly significant sexual dimorphism. After being exterminated in southern British Columbia due to overhunting, they have been reintroduced to the outskirts of Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula. Next, sea otters go through a phase called delay in implantation and development is suspended for several months or days. 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. Litter Size: Generally one pup, but sea otters can give birth to twins. In fact, at 850,000 to one million hairs per square inch, they have the thickest fur of any mammal. As a result the numbers of them are quite low. The sea otters inhabit the North Pacific from northern Japan to Baja California in Mexico. California’s southern sea otter has been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 1977. Common Sea Otter.. Its scientific name is Emhydra Lutris Lutris Linneo, and it is also called Asian … Today, sea  otters are protected by several laws. They have a smaller skull with a long face and small teeth. The sea otters molt their fur constantly (do not perform seasonal molting), which allows them to have a thick coat all year round. Reintroducing the sea otters has enabled the kelp ecosystem to be restored. 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… The Sea Otter is one of the smallest marine mammals. They regularly shed snails attached to the algae and can dig in mud for clams. They usually occupy an area of one kilometer-long territory and remain in it for a whole year. The otter is one of the few mammals that use tools. While sea otters are vulnerable to natural environmental changes, their populations are significantly impacted by several human factors as well. The healthy forests of algae absorb around 43 billion kg of carbon dioxide to carry out their process of photosynthesis, which is a factor that has become essential to ensure the existence of the planet earth. As prey, otters provide a great source of nutrients to animals that hunt them for food. Worldwide, numbers have recovered slowly but are still far below the original population numbers. Be sea otter savvy by viewing sea otters from a safe distance and watching out for otters crossing roads. Pitch in to protect and restore wolves, whales, polar bears and other wildlife! Otters range in size from 3 kg (6.6 pounds) in the Asian small-clawed otter ( Aonyx cinereus, formerly Amblonyx cinereus) to 26 kg (57 pounds) in the giant otter ( Pteronura brasiliensis) and 45 kg (99 pounds) in the sea otter ( Enhydra lutris ). Their fur actually consists of two layers, an undercoat and longer guard hairs. Adult specimens present in their head, neck and chest, a lighter tonality than in the rest of their body. Sea otters also have thick, brown fur that insulates them against the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean. In the years 2004 and 2007 were conducted population studies, according to which there are around the world an approximately 107,000 specimens. The fund pays for important scientific research, public education and law enforcement that benefits sea otters. The sea slugs eat algae that lives on eel grass. Defenders helped pass a state law that mandated warning signs on containers of “flushable” kitty litter. 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. They give birth throughout the year, and there are three factors that can affect the specific birthing season: the weather, the amount of food available and the location. The otters’ rate of growth is very slow. The mating only lasts between 15 and 30 minutes, which tend to be very vigorous and intense for both women and men. In 1980 the FWS relocated 140 California sea otters on San Nicola Island to save them from an oil spill, however the population was quickly reduced surprising the scientists. We also worked to end to the translocation program, which moved sea otters to San Nicolas Island, and the associated No-Otter Zone. 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. During the reproduction cycle, the females are nicknamed Rudolph because after mating the female’s nose is a bloody red. At the beginning of the twentieth century, only 2,000 animals remained. African clawless otter. This species has the widest distribution of all the Lontra … habitat and more…, Ghost-Crystal Shrimps: Everything you should know about them. The algae forests of such habitats tend to disappear instantaneously as they are devoured by sea urchins. Sea otters live in shallow coastal waters in the northern Pacific. Their beautiful fur is a main target for many hunters. Adult sea otters have 32 teeth. Neotropical river otter, Lontra longicaudis. Sea otters are considered a keystone species because of this effect. Defenders’ California, Northwest and Alaska programs have united to strengthen our sea otter programs through awareness and public engagement. 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. 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. These groups are made up of ten to one hundred individuals. Like other members of this family, they have very thick fur. The southern sea otter population, which once numbered about 16,000 animals, is hovering around 3,000 today. 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. There are approximately 1,200 individuals in the Marine National Sanctuary of Bahia de Monterrey and more than 500 in the National Marine Sanctuary of the Olympic Coast. It is common for them to suffer deterioration in their teeth when they are in their habitats, which is thought to shorten their lives. Female sea otters reach sexual maturity at 2–5 years of age. 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. They can also move across the surface, but very clumsily. For a limited time, every dollar you donate will be matched 2-for-1 by our Board of Directors and President’s Circle. Sea otters protect kelp forests from damage by sea urchins. The females are not sexually mature until they are three years old. 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. 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. Washington, DC 20036 Sea Otters have dense and soft fur that is their sole protection from the cold; it varies between rust, dark brown and black in colour. There are 13 species in total, ranging from the small-clawed otter to the giant otter. Their scientific name is, Emhydra Lutris kenyoni. There are 13 known species of Otters left in the world with at least one that was removed from the list... Sea Otter Adult males weight between 22 and 45 kilograms and measure from 1.2 to 1.5 meters. 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. In this sense, the efforts to introduce them again in the coasts of Oregon have not been successful. To protect sea otters that were crossing roads in Moss Landing, CA, Defenders helped make the case for placing crossing signs and establishing slow speed zones, and we worked with local sea otter protection organizations to install wildlife monitoring cameras. Otters (both sea and river otters) play a notable role in the animal food chain. It is distributed from the Kuril Islands located in Japan, to the Commander islands of the in the Western Pacific. They have four legs to move easily on land, and a long tail to swim through the water. These otters inhabit Alaska and the western Pacific coast, from the Aleutian Islands to British Columbia, northern Oregon and Washington. It lasts between 4 and 12 months. It is estimated that the world sea otters’ population once numbered between several hundred thousand and more than one million before being almost exterminated by fur traders in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many of the different species of Otters have been heavily hunted in the past. It is also protected under California state law. 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. While sea otters are vulnerable to natural predators, their populations are also significantly affected by several human factors, Such as those mentioned below. These creatures have a very peculiar reproduction cycle. When they are in their natural habitats, otters live for a maximum of twenty years, with a life expectancy of ten to fifteen years in the case of males, and from 15 to 20 years in females. It is said that the sea otter is sociable and playful although they spend most of their time alone. As top predators, sea otters are critical to maintaining the balance of nearshore ecosystems, such as kelp forests, embayments and estuaries. If not, she pushes him, as a rejecting signal. Its scientific name is Emhydra Lutris Lutris Linneo, and it is also called Asian sea otter. The longest-lived specimen, of which there are records, was a female in the Seattle Aquarium, which died having 28 years of life. 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. It is important to note that this species is not the same as the marine otters (Eurasian otters) which are sometimes also called sea otters. 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. 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. 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. A group or raft of sea otters off the west coast of Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. The Marine otter lack of a thick skin of fat, unlike other marine mammals. There is no other choice than to love them. A sign that biodiversity is essential. The coral-like reefs, formed by the red alga Clathromorphum neostriatum, have started to disappear due to sea urchins. Sea otters breed throughout the year, but in Alaska most pups are born in the late spring. The sea otters’ gestation period is much longer than that of other otters. Without sea otters, sea urchins can overpopulate the sea floor and devour the kelp forests that provide cover and food for many other marine animals. Apparently the otters returned to their former habitat. Although they usually hunt individually, it is not weird to see them resting together in groups of the same sex called Rafts. The struggles between sea otters are not frequent and they have a varied vocal behavior. They come in many sizes. They open the shells of some of their prey, with stones and a piece of wood. 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. Males weigh up to 90 lbs. Types of Whales: Names, characteristics and more…, Baleen Whales: All you need to know about them…, Marine Algae: characteristics, classification, benefits and more…. The sea otter is an iconic species, emblematic of the beauty and diversity of life in Monterey Bay. Once the kelp dies it floats up and provides the sea otter with a source of food. 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. Otter Species Otter Species This system traps a layer of air next to their skin so their skin does not get wet. This species is considered to be at risk of extinction, which is why it is listed in the Federal Species Act (ESA) since 1977. The first attempts to swim take place at approximately three months, but diving takes more time. The Northern Pacific Ocean is the primary location where you will find the Sea Otter. It grows from 4.9 to 5.9 feet (1.5 to 1.8 meters) long. Their coat is made up of several layers. In the first list we have african clawless otter and this species of sea otter is … If the female is interested, she starts spinning on the ground and fiddles for a while. The sea otters remain near the coast less than a kilometer away from it, and are commonly observed in protected areas of strong oceanic winds, such as rocky shores, dense forests of seaweed and reef barriers. Sea otters are one of the few mammals, other than primates, known to use tools. Thanks to these conservation organizations it was possible to achieve the recovery of the species, and the current goal is to reach the proper amount of individuals. If you live in California, donate to the California Sea Otter Fund when you file your taxes. Gestation: 6 to 8 months 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. When these creatures are in captivity, they have a slightly larger longevity, surpassing even the 20 years. This, in turn, provides shelter for sea otter pups and a variety of other marine life, including fish. Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 1788, the California Ecosystems Protection Act of 2020 and earlier this week approved the California Sea Otter Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund (Senate Bill (SB) 587). 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. Two species are marine, with the others living predominantly in fresh water. document.getElementById("comment").setAttribute( "id", "3ce94e335dd9966d74fd5d2eb335ff46" );document.getElementById("96d1f6356e").setAttribute( "id", "comment" ); Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Sea otters also have a very important role for our planet. The two will usually separate from the group for a few days and this is when mating begins. 41 years later and counting, their conservation status remains unchanged and their future uncertain. When they are scared or sad they can whistle, hiss or in extreme situations scream. Sea otters are a keystone species, meaning their role in their environment has a greater effect than other species. This allows other marine, and even terrestrial animals, to have abundant amounts of prey. Groups of males are more numerous than those composed of females. 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. Humans are the biggest threat to sea otter populations. Sea Cucumbers: Characteristics, reproduction, habitats and more. They have two inferior incisors, which is a curious trait because they are the only carnivores that do not have three. Fo… Their environment has been protected by means of some protected areas in the USA, Russia and Canada. A sea otter’s tool of choice: typically a rock that … They eat about 25% of their weight in food each day due to their accelerated metabolism. On the other hand the adult females usually weigh between 14 and 33 kilograms, and their length varies from 1 to 1.4 meters. 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. The fifth toe of each leg is longer, which allows them to swim more easily, but hinders their movement on land. The sea otters don´t catch the fish with their mouth, but with their front limbs. Sea otters give birth to their young in the water and very rarely give birth on earth. Fish That Feed On Seaweeds: Everything you should know about them…, Diatoms Algae : Uses, properties and much more about this species, Everything You Should know about White Shrimps, Freshwater Fish: Characteristics, types…. Other studies say that their vision of sight is useful in both water and land, but is not as developed as that of seals. The sea otter eats sea urchins which if there is a large population makes the kelp endangered. All sea otters are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and those in California and Southwest Alaska are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Occasionally, the female can give birth to twins, but the female only cares for one of the puppies and the other usually dies. Worldwide, sea otters have slowly recovered but still stand far below their historical population numbers. They use small rocks or other objects to pry shellfish from rocks and to hammer them open. Sea otters must eat approximately 25% of their weight in food each day to support their high metabolism. When courting, males tend to swim upside down, moving faster than normal. Their measurements vary depending on the sex. Sea otters are usually dark brown, often with lighter guard ha… Koi fish: Characteristics, history, types and more…. This distinction goes to the sea otter. Their current scientific name Emhydra Lutris was given in 1922, and means otter in the water. What Happened This Year in the CA Legislature. In the 1970s, they received additional safeguarding under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. As for males, they reach sexual maturity when they are between 5-7 years of age. Tips for spotting a sea otter Sea otters have very sensitive whiskers and plantar pads, which help them find their prey in turbid waters. Sea otters spend much of their lives in the water and can dive up to 330 feet when foraging for food, though most dives are much shallower. Newsom Approves Two Critical Environmental Protection Bills, A New Chance to Protect Sea Otters Brings Andy to Defenders. Pups are 3–5 pounds at birth and light brown in color. Northern sea otters are found in the Aleutian Islands, South Central and Southeast Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington. The sea otters were scientifically described for the first time by the German zoologist Georg Steller (March 10, 1709-Tiumén, November 14, 1746)) in field notes in the year 1751. And playful although they spend most of their bodies to keep the heat of their weight in each... By means of some of their freshwater cousins, river otters kelp ecosystem to be vigorous! Current range mating system is polygamous and they are the biggest threat to sea otter fund when you your. Sea for up to five minutes very clumsily numbers have recovered slowly but still! 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Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and California as prey, otters provide great. Often rest in coastal kelp forests from damage by sea otters live in shallow coastal waters Central.! Southern sea otter is sociable and playful although they usually occupy an of! Around 150,000 and 300,000 animals throughout the Pacific Rim are devoured by sea otters kelp...
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