Sea Otters in the Kelp Forest

Topics: Sea otter, Kelp forest, Otter Pages: 2 (606 words) Published: June 18, 2007
Sea Otters in the Kelp Forest
The kelp forest is among the most biologically productive marine habitat known to Earth today. They are like underwater forest made out of giant kelp, and sustaining hundreds of different organisms such as; kelp, abalone, crustaceans, urchins, harbor seals, and also sea otters. Kelp forests are important to today's oceans, and they depend on the organisms that live within them, especially the sea otter.

A keystone species is a species whose presence contributes to the diversity of life in its ecosystem. If a keystone species to an ecosystem were to go extinct, their ecosystem would suffer severally. In the case of the kelp forest the major keystone species is the sea otter. The reason that the sea otter is a keystone species in the kelp forest is its diet. Sea otters main diet consists of things like sea urchins, clams, small fish, snails, sea stars, abalone, octopuses, and squid. This is important to the survival of kelp forest because the sea urchins graze on the kelp, and if their populations get out of control they will over graze and chew off all of the attachments that keep kelp in place. This will cause the kelp to float up to the surface and drift and die. Therefore, without the sea otter around to keep populations in check, the kelp forest could just drift away and disappear, taking with it several species.

Sea otters are highly intelligent animals. They are among the few marine mammals that are known to use tools in their everyday life. They dive deep into kelp forest to collect there food, for example clams. They then return to the surface and place the clam on their bellies and smash it open with rocks to get to the inner meat that the otters live on. Another way that their intelligence is shown is that they have been known to wrap themselves in kelp during storms or just when the water is a little rough so that they don't drift away while they rest. Sea otters are among the most intelligent marine...
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