Sea Otters

Topics: Sea otter, Otters, Aonyx Pages: 5 (1903 words) Published: May 1, 2013
Sea otters may look cute and furry from the outside but they have many attributes that help them to survive in their natural habitat. Along with being one of the smartest mammals, they also have finely tuned senses that help protect them and help them hunt. Their cute and furry appearance is not deception, despite living in the wild, they are very social and often swim along side boats and scuba divers. This became very dangerous when poachers realized the value of their pelts, and sea otters were hunted to near extinction The sea otter is found in the weasel family. It lives along the coast of the Pacific Ocean in North America and Asia. Their habitats range from the Russia to California. Their habitat is made of the sea floor where they catch food and the sea surface where they eat, groom, rest and socialize. They prefer shallow water that is less than 130 feet because it allows them to get food easier. However they can dive up to 400 feet if they need to. The water temperatures in these areas range from 21 degrees C to 38 degrees C below their core body temperature of 39 degrees C. They will frequently live in areas, which have kelp beds. They will raft in the kelp bed canopies. They use the seaweed in the beds to anchor themselves so that they do not float away. Mothers also tend to leave their pups in kelp beds to go hunt for food. ​All otters have the ability to produce sound and communicate vocally. However giant otters communicate more than other otters and they are also louder. Scientists have discerned about nine different sounds including some for anger, warning, and affection. ​A Cape clawless otter produces powerful, high-pitched shrieks when disturbed or when trying to attract attention. The Asian small-clawed otter has a repertoire of at least 12 different vocalizations. Scent is the most important sense for communication in all freshwater species. River otters have scent glands at the base of the tail. They deposit their musky scent on their spraint. Spraint stations tend to be evenly spaced throughout an otter's range, about 40 to 70 m (131–230 ft.) apart. These stations can be ten times more common along the coast than further inland, where otter movements are channeled along particular routes. Spraint is deposited in conspicuous locations including tree trunks, boulders, trails, and pool edges. Otters spend a great deal of time exploring their own spraint as well as that of others. Each otter's characteristic scent is as unique as a fingerprint and conveys such information as identity, age, sex, and breeding condition. Scent is especially important for marking territorial boundaries. The scientific name for the sea otter is Enhydra lutris kenyoni. They can live up to 25 years old but the average life span is between 10-12 years. Although the sea otter is the smallest marine mammal, the average adult can be as large as 5 feet in length and weigh up to 70 lbs. The average length of an adult female is 4 feet and average weight is 60 lbs. At birth, sea otters weigh approximately 5 lbs and are 10 inches in length. It spends most of its time in water but sometimes swims to the shore to rest. Sea otters have webbed feet, water repellent fur, and nostrils and ears that close in the water to help them swim. They often float on the water’s surface on their backs. They sleep on their backs often in groups. They sometimes float in large amounts of sea weed that they tangle themselves in to keep them from floating around. They are also highly intelligent and use rocks to open clams and mussels, their favorite food. They do this by grabbing a rock from the shore, and while laying on their back they place the clam on their stomach and beat it with the rock to open it. This shows their intelligence and ability to even use basic tools. Sea otters are very concerned with hygiene. After eating they wash themselves in the ocean, cleaning themselves with their teeth and paws. Cleaning their coat helps them to maintain...

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