Sea Otter

Enhydra lutris

1 . Food Chain & Habitat

  • food sources- clams, snails, abalone, crabs, starfish, mussels, scallops, squid, chitons, small octopuses, sea urchins (MMC)
  • sea otters find food by diving down against the sea floor (MMC)
  • sea otters are carnivores (MMC, Wiki)
  • sea otters prey mostly on mammal invertebrates such as sea urchins, various molluscs and crustaceans, and some species of fish. (MMC)



2. Description

  • classification- mammal (NG)
  • special body covering- two layers: undercoat and long guard hairs on top, brown to black fur, guard hairs can be a light tan color (NG)
  • height- 4 feet (NG)
  • weight- females: 45 lbs, males: 65 lbs (NG)
  • communication- sea otters produce sounds and communicate vocally (NG)
  • unusual characteristics- nostrils and ears close while underwater so that no water gets into them (NG)

3. Adaptation

  • for protection:
  • structures- teeth, good eyesight above and below water, communication of warning sounds by producing sounds vocally (Wiki)
  • behaviors- speed, excellent swimmers (SW)
  • for getting food:
  • structures-teeth used for crushing and grinding, powerful legs to swim (SW)
  • behavior- hunt in social groups, but they act differently towards humans and their social structure is not fully understood (KP)

4. Reasons for endangerment

  • Sea otters are hunted for pelts of fur (BH)
  • Due to lack of food for whales, sea otters become victims of them (BH)
  • Disease (AL&HC)
  • Oil spills (AL&HC)
  • Boat props (AL&HC)
  • Gill nets (AL&HC)
  • Poaching (AL&HC)

5. Critical information

  • Sea Otters are iconic species, representing the beauty and diversity of life in Monterey Bay (AL&HC)
  • Good indicators at ocean health (AL&HC)
  • Help keep ocean ecosystems in balance (AL&HC)
  • To help Sea Otters, go green and minimize consumptions of fossil fuels that can cause oil spills
  • The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1973 (AL&HC)
  • The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (AL&HC)
  • You can help sea otters by visiting the Pacific WildLife Foundation at http://www.pwlf.org/seaotter.htm and Saving Sea Otters (Monterey Bay Aquarium) at http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/sorac.aspx

Now for the bibliographies.