16 Playful Facts About Otters | Mental Floss
Learn about the size, diet, population, range, behavior and other fascinating facts about sea otters. Learn why, along with more fun facts about sea otters. Some of these animals have hard shells, making it difficult to get the meat inside. The sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and .. The fluffy baby fur is replaced by adult fur after about 13 weeks. . they met another Russian party and an American party, and caught 1, sea otters.
Cold water is kept completely away from the skin and heat loss is limited. The nostrils and small ears can close. The front paws are short with retractable claws, with tough pads on the palms that enable gripping slippery prey. The sea otter walks with a clumsy, rolling gait on land, and can run in a bounding motion. Its relatively large kidneys enable it to derive fresh water from sea water and excrete concentrated urine.
The sea otter is diurnal. It has a period of foraging and eating in the morning, starting about an hour before sunrise, then rests or sleeps in mid-day. To casual observers, it appears as if the animals are scratching, but they are not known to have lice or other parasites in the fur. Although it can hold its breath for up to five minutes,  its dives typically last about one minute and not more than four. In this pouch preferentially the left onethe animal stores collected food to bring to the surface.
This pouch also holds a rock, unique to the otter, that is used to break open shellfish and clams. It can chew and swallow small mussels with their shells, whereas large mussel shells may be twisted apart. To pry an abalone off its rock, it hammers the abalone shell using a large stone, with observed rates of 45 blows in 15 seconds.
Although each adult and independent juvenile forages alone, sea otters tend to rest together in single-sex groups called rafts. A raft typically contains 10 to animals, with male rafts being larger than female ones. To keep from drifting out to sea when resting and eating, sea otters may wrap themselves in kelp.
The cry of a pup is often compared to that of a seagull. Sea otters are polygynous: However, temporary pair-bonding occurs for a few days between a female in estrus and her mate. Georg Steller wrote, "They embrace their young with an affection that is scarcely credible.
Initially, the objects it retrieves are of little food value, such as brightly colored starfish and pebbles. The fur trade that began in the s reduced the sea otter's numbers to an estimated 1, to 2, members in 13 colonies.
In about two-thirds of its former range, the species is at varying levels of recovery, with high population densities in some areas and threatened populations in others. Sea otters currently have stable populations in parts of the Russian east coast, Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and California, with reports of recolonizations in Mexico and Japan. After the years of the Great Hunt, the population in these areas, currently part of Russia, was only Of these, about 19, are at the Kurils, 2, to 3, at Kamchatka and another 5, to 5, at the Commander Islands.
Inthe population in Alaska was estimated at betweenandanimals. A remnant population survived off Vancouver Island into the 20th century, but it died out despite the international protection treaty, with the last sea otter taken near Kyuquot in From to89 sea otters were flown or shipped from Alaska to the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Facts About Otters
This population increased to over 5, in with an estimated annual growth rate of 7. It is not known if this colony, which numbered about animals inwas founded by transplanted otters or was a remnant population that had gone undetected. The translocated population is estimated to have declined to between 10 and 43 individuals before increasing, reaching individuals in As ofthe population was estimated at over 2, individuals, and their range extends from Point Grenville in the south to Cape Flattery in the north and east to Pillar Point along the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
They can swim as close as six feet off shore along the Olympic coast.
Reported sightings of sea otters in the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound almost always turn out to be North American river otterswhich are commonly seen along the seashore. However, biologists have confirmed isolated sightings of sea otters in these areas since the mids. In anda total of 95 sea otters were transplanted from Amchitka Island, Alaska to the Southern Oregon coast.
However, this translocation effort failed and otters soon again disappeared from the state. This male is thought to have originated from a colony in Washington, but disappeared after a coastal storm. It could have traveled to the state from either California or Washington.
And since otters have superb metabolisms and can easily eat up to 15 percent of their body weight each day, there's a lot of spraint to go around.
The aquarium staff had previously tried raising pups themselves but found that hand-raised otters became too attached to humans to be released back into the wild.
So insteadthey dropped the pup in with the female otter, and she immediately went into mom mode. The aquarium has since devised a system of hand-rearing pups for the first six to eight weeks—mostly for bottle feeding purposes—before handing the pups off to female otters for raising.
At six months, the pups are released back into the wild with generally strong results. There are two layers of fur—an undercoat and then longer hairs that we can see.
The layers manage to trap air next to the otter's skin, which keeps the otters dry and warm and also helps with buoyancy. Therefore, they are big on tools and will often use rocks to help crack into dinner.
Some cultures even forbid eating the creatures and were offended when colonial Europeans began hunting the river otters and selling their furs. On top of that, pups have 11 of their own calls that they intersperse with "infant babbling. For centuries, fisherman have been training otters to act as herders and chase large schools of fish into the nets. In the past, observers have usually set up telescopes on shore to try and monitor otters at sea.
Otters won't act naturally with humans nearby, and using a telescope on a boat can get tricky in the rollicking ocean. But now, scientists are using unmanned drones with cameras to get an aerial look at otters in their element, making it easier to monitor the creatures as they dive for food and go about their day. Otter groups go by a few different monikers, all of which are fairly unique to that crew. Generally, a group of otters on land will go by a romp, while a group hanging in the water is called a raft.
In the downtime, though, otters love to play and will often build themselves slides along the banks of rivers.
5 Facts About Sea Otters
But with their numbers hovering around just a few thousand, researchers have kept a close eye on the population and their studies have revealed an interesting social structure. The otters, which need to consume 25 percent to 35 percent of their body weight every day in order to maintain their metabolism and keep themselves warm in the cool waters, are divided into three " dietary guilds ": Deep-diving otters that dine on abalone, urchins, and Dungeness crab; medium divers who subsist on clams, worms, and smaller shellfish; and those that stay in shallower waters, feeding on black snails.
Peter, Steller and other 18th-century explorers crash-landed on modern-day Bering Island after getting separated from its sister ship. Over the course of a rough winter, he meticulously documented many species, and while some have since gone extinct like a sea-cow he described that was hunted into extinctionthe adorable otter was among his initial discoveries.