southern sea otter

[99] A massive decline in sea otter populations in the Aleutian Islands accounts for most of the change; the cause of this decline is not known, although orca predation is suspected. [96] The founder of Fort Ross, Ivan Kuskov, finding otters scarce on his second voyage to Bodega Bay in 1812, sent a party of Aleuts to San Francisco Bay, where they met another Russian party and an American party, and caught 1,160 sea otters in three months. [55] It is the only marine mammal that catches fish with its forepaws rather than with its teeth. Females give live birth to, normally, one pup at a time. Now, the only indigenous population of Southern Sea Otters resides along the coast of central California. Southern Sea Otter Festival Pavilion KF3 Nexon Game: For voice lines, see Southern Sea Otter/KF3/Voice. [51], The sea otter is diurnal. South America’s marine otter — Lontra felina — is the smallest marine mammal in the world. [137] However, the population increased markedly from 2015 to 2016, with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) California sea otter survey 3-year average reaching 3,272 in 2016, the first time it exceeded the threshold for delisting from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). [187], Among the Ainu, the otter is portrayed as an occasional messenger between humans and the creator. Southern sea otter has a high metabolic rate that is about 2.5 times greater than that of terrestrial animals. Eventually, sea otter populations became so depleted, commercial hunting was no longer viable. [194] In 2007, a YouTube video of two sea otters holding paws drew 1.5 million viewers in two weeks, and had over 20 million views as of January 2015[update]. He brings more than 30 years of professional marine mammal management, husbandry, rehabilitation, and training experience to the Aquarium. Adult sea otters typically weigh between 14 and 45 kg (31 and 99 lb), making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, but among the smallest marine mammals. The southern sea otter, Enhydra lutris nereis, continues its climb toward recovery, according to the annual count released today by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners. [28] As the ability of the guard hairs to repel water depends on utmost cleanliness, the sea otter has the ability to reach and groom the fur on any part of its body, taking advantage of its loose skin and an unusually supple skeleton. [167] Prices rose as the species became rare. [20] The Asian sea otter is the largest subspecies and has a slightly wider skull and shorter nasal bones than both other subspecies. Three subspecies of the sea otter are recognized with distinct geographical distributions. It is not known if this colony, which numbered about 300 animals in 2004, was founded by transplanted otters or was a remnant population that had gone undetected. It has a period of foraging and eating in the morning, starting about an hour before sunrise, then rests or sleeps in mid-day. In the 1980s, the area was home to an estimated 55,000 to 100,000 sea otters, but the population fell to around 6,000 animals by 2000. As word spread, people from all over Europe and North America began to arrive in the Pacific Northwest to trade for sea otter furs. To manage the competition between sea otters and fisheries, it declared an "otter-free zone" stretching from Point Conception to the Mexican border. [175] Necropsies of dead sea otters indicate diseases, particularly Toxoplasma gondii and acanthocephalan parasite infections, are major causes of sea otter mortality in California. The sea otter inhabits nearshore environments, where it dives to the sea floor to forage. [74], Females become sexually mature at around three or four years of age and males at around five; however, males often do not successfully breed until a few years later. [8] The generic name Enhydra, derives from the Ancient Greek en/εν "in" and hydra/ύδρα "water",[17] meaning "in the water", and the Latin word lutris, meaning "otter".[18]. That … [103] By 2006, though, the Alaska population had fallen to an estimated 73,000 animals. To the surprise of biologists, the majority of the San Nicolas sea otters swam back to the mainland. As top predators, sea otters are critical to maintaining the balance of nearshore ecosystems, such as kelp forests, embayments and estuaries. Sea otters spend most of their time near the shore. Contents. [35], The sea otter propels itself underwater by moving the rear end of its body, including its tail and hind feet, up and down,[32] and is capable of speeds of up to 9 km/h (5.6 mph). [132] Recently, a toxin called microcystin, produced by a type of cyanobacteria (Microcystis), seems to be concentrated in the shellfish the otters eat, poisoning them. Urban runoff transporting cat feces into the ocean brings Toxoplasma gondii, an obligate parasite of felids, which has killed sea otters. 2006b). This male is thought to have originated from a colony in Washington, but disappeared after a coastal storm. Beginner Environmental Leadership Program, Alliance of Marine Mammals Parks & Aquariums (AMMPA), International Marine Animal Trainer's Association (IMATA). [65] Although sea otters can be playful and sociable, they are not considered to be truly social animals. Archaeological evidence indicates that for thousands of years, indigenous peoples have hunted sea otters for food and fur. Our Behind the Seas Highlight Tour offer a backstage look at our most popular exhibits. [53], Sea otters spend much of their time grooming, which consists of cleaning the fur, untangling knots, removing loose fur, rubbing the fur to squeeze out water and introduce air, and blowing air into the fur. [153], Sea otters affect rocky ecosystems that are dominated by mussel beds by removing mussels from rocks. Adult southern sea otters are approximately 4 feet (1.2 m) in length. [157] Thus began what is sometimes called the "Great Hunt", which would continue for another hundred years. The southern river otter can be found in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial habitats, but are mostly found in freshwater lakes and rivers having a significant amount of dense vegetation, especially along the shorelines, which must be present to use as cover. [83] Mothers have been known to carry their pups for days after the pups' deaths. In, Treaty for the Preservation and Protection of Fur Seals, Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, tribes on the Pacific coast of North America, "Multigene phylogeny of the Mustelidae: resolving relationships, tempo and biogeographic history of a mammalian adaptive radiation", "Multigene phylogeny of the Mustelidae: Resolving relationships, tempo and biogeographic history of a mammalian adaptive radiation", "Building large trees by combining phylogenetic information: a complete phylogeny of the extant Carnivora (Mammalia)", "Washington State Periodic Status Review for the Sea Otter", "Do differences in skull morphology and bite performance explain dietary specialization in sea otters? [29] The coloration of the pelage is usually deep brown with silver-gray speckles, but it can range from yellowish or grayish brown to almost black. [5] Male sea otters usually weigh 22 to 45 kg (49 to 99 lb) and are 1.2 to 1.5 m (3 ft 11 in to 4 ft 11 in) in length, though specimens up to 54 kg (119 lb) have been recorded. 1.1 Kemono Friends 3; … [96] "Yezo" refers to the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan. The most significant threat to sea otters is oil spills,[59] to which they are particularly vulnerable, since they rely on their fur to keep warm. [3] At birth, the eyes are open, ten teeth are visible, and the pup has a thick coat of baby fur. Dive into the world of dolphins during our awe-inspiring and educational dolphin presentation. [24] For its size, the male otter's baculum is very large, massive and bent upwards, measuring 150 mm (5.9 in) in length and 15 mm (0.59 in) at the base. [43], An adult's 32 teeth, particularly the molars, are flattened and rounded for crushing rather than cutting food. The sea otter has a metabolic rate two or three times that of comparatively sized terrestrial mammals. ", Archeological Research Issues for the Point Reyes National Seashore – Golden Gate National Recreation Area, "Sea Otter Show Striking Variability in Diets And Feeding Strategies", "U.S. The sea otter is the heaviest (the giant otter is longer, but significantly slimmer) member of the family Mustelidae, a diverse group that includes the 13 otter species and terrestrial animals such as weasels, badgers, and minks. A raft typically contains 10 to 100 animals, with male rafts being larger than female ones. Kelp forests sequester (absorb and capture) CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. [21][22], The sea otter is one of the smallest marine mammal species, but it is the heaviest mustelid. Otter were also taken from San Benito Island, Cedros Island, and Isla Natividad in the Bay. The southern sea otter is dark to reddish brown in color with a lighter colored head, throat, and chest. [105] In 2008, Canada determined the status of sea otters to be "special concern". [9] The modern sea otter evolved initially in northern Hokkaidō and Russia, and then spread east to the Aleutian Islands, mainland Alaska, and down the North American coast. [63] During this time, males patrol the boundaries of their territories to exclude other males,[63] although actual fighting is rare. [116][117] Historical records revealed the Russian-American Company sneaked Aleuts into San Francisco Bay multiple times, despite the Spanish capturing or shooting them while hunting sea otters in the estuaries of San Jose, San Mateo, San Bruno and around Angel Island. M O L L U S K S. Habitat: Coasts of the Northern & Eastern … Sea otter population growth has stalled in recent years and many hurdles for full population recovery remain. The southern sea otter is dark to reddish brown in color with a lighter colored head, throat, and chest. Suit up and stand waist-deep in our beluga habitat alongside our beluga whale trainers. [122] By 2005, only 30 sea otters remained at San Nicolas,[123] although they were slowly increasing as they thrived on the abundant prey around the island. Listed as “threatened” under the U.S. Enhydra lutris lutris (nominate), the Asian sea otter, ranges from the Kuril Islands north of Japan to Russia's Commander Islands in the western Pacific Ocean. Like other members of this family, they have very thick fur. [38] The sea otter's body is highly buoyant because of its large lung capacity – about 2.5 times greater than that of similar-sized land mammals[39] – and the air trapped in its fur. They can swim as close as six feet off shore along the Olympic coast. The tail is short in comparison to those of other otters. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies. The recovery of the sea otter is considered an important success in marine conservation, although populations in the Aleutian Islands and California have recently declined or have plateaued at depressed levels. [184] The health of the kelp forest ecosystem is significant in nurturing populations of fish, including commercially important fish species. [31] The hind feet, which provide most of its propulsion in swimming, are long, broadly flattened, and fully webbed. Endangered Species Act and “depleted” under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1977. [91] They are found most often in areas with protection from the most severe ocean winds, such as rocky coastlines, thick kelp forests, and barrier reefs. Body Composition. [61] Adult females move freely between male territories, where they outnumber adult males by an average of five to one. Distribution. Cold water is kept completely away from the skin and heat loss is limited. After the years of the Great Hunt, the population in these areas, currently part of Russia, was only 750. [160] The Aleut population was reduced, by the Russians' own estimate, from 20,000 to 2,000. [58] [150] A 2007 Californian study demonstrated, in areas where food was relatively scarce, a wider variety of prey was consumed. Behind its cute face and fluffy fur, the sea otter is an aquatic environmentalist. However, biologists have confirmed isolated sightings of sea otters in these areas since the mid-1990s. ©2021 Georgia Aquarium 225 Baker Street Northwest, Atlanta, GA. Georgia Aquarium is a nonprofit committed to inspiring awareness and preservation of our ocean and aquatic animals worldwide. Forepaws are smaller with retractable claws and are used to groom, eat, and hold tools for breaking open prey. In most of its range, it is a keystone species, controlling sea urchin populations which would otherwise inflict extensive damage to kelp forest ecosystems. Southern sea otter is not a social animal as are other otter species and has been known to live alone. [72] Mothers have been observed to lick and fluff a newborn for hours; after grooming, the pup's fur retains so much air, the pup floats like a cork and cannot dive. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) determined that the population should exceed 3,090 for three consecutive years. [3][68], Births occur year-round, with peaks between May and June in northern populations and between January and March in southern populations. Once common along most of the coastal North Pacific Ocean from Japan to California, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it was hunted to the verge of extinction for its prized pelt. This number still keeps them on track for removal from the endangered species list, although just barely. It has a long, stout body with a short broad head and snout with thick whiskers on the cheeks. 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. The Russians initially traded with the Aleuts inhabitants of these islands for otter pelts, but later enslaved the Aleuts, taking women and children hostage and torturing and killing Aleut men to force them to hunt. [41] Other observations indicate the sea otter's sense of sight is useful above and below the water, although not as good as that of seals. Southern Sea Otter Friend Data; Voiced by: 山根綺 Yamane Aya. Although the pup ratio is about 50:50 males to females, there is a higher mortality rate among male pups. [56] Juveniles are typically independent at six to eight months, but a mother may be forced to abandon a pup if she cannot find enough food for it;[77] at the other extreme, a pup may nurse until it is almost adult size. Female sea otter is pregnant for four-and-a-half months. Southern sea otters have been killed illegally because of the belief that they compete with commercial fishers and divers collecting sea urchins commercially. As of 2017, the population was estimated at over 2,000 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. In studies performed at Amchitka Island in the 1960s, where the sea otter population was at carrying capacity, 50% of food found in sea otter stomachs was fish. Predators of sea otters include sharks and killer whales. Sea otter’s body is covered in a dense fur that constantly must be groomed to maintain its insulating properties and cleanliness; therefore, a sea otter will spend up to 10% of its time grooming. [98] Growth has slowed slightly, suggesting the numbers are reaching carrying capacity. [19] 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 valuable types of fur.[19]. [56] There, the sea otter eats while floating on its back, using its forepaws to tear food apart and bring it to its mouth. [71] In the wild, sea otters live to a maximum age of 23 years,[24] with lifespans ranging from 10 to 15 years for males and 15–20 years for females. Leading mammalian predators of this species include orcas and sea lions, and bald eagles may grab pups from the surface of the water. The Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Sea otters have been credited with contributing to the kelp harvesting industry via their well-known role in controlling sea urchin populations; kelp is used in the production of diverse food and pharmaceutical products. Uses its nose and whiskers to help locate prey and to detect vibrations under the water. Lyapunova, R.G. The otter has a set of canine teeth as well. Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), also known as California sea otters, were listed as threatened in 1977 under the Endangered Species Act. [169] However, the IUCN still lists the sea otter as an endangered species, and describes the significant threats to sea otters as oil pollution, predation by orcas, poaching, and conflicts with fisheries – sea otters can drown if entangled in fishing gear. [98] By 2004, sea otters had repopulated all of their former habitat in these areas, with an estimated total population of about 27,000. Consequently, sexually mature females can be distinguished by bloody or scarred nose regions. In this zone, only San Nicolas Island was designated as sea otter habitat, and sea otters found elsewhere in the area were supposed to be captured and relocated. [96] By the early 1900s, Baja's sea otters were extirpated by hunting. [178] An estimated 1,200 sea otters live within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and more than 500 live within the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. [102] Before the 19th century, around 20,000 to 25,000 sea otters lived near the Kuril Islands, with more near Kamchatka and the Commander Islands. [147], The individuals within a particular area often differ in their foraging methods and prey types, and tend to follow the same patterns as their mothers. They use their long, flat … Sea otters play a vital role in the health and stability of the nearshore marine ecosystem as a keystone species; Sea otter fur is the densest of any mammal at about 1 million hairs per square inch (We have 100,000 hairs on our entire head). Loss of the habitat and nutrients provided by kelp forests leads to profound cascade effects on the marine ecosystem. There are only about 3,000 southern sea otters left in the wild today. This one is sixteen minutes of one southern sea otter showing rarely seen otter behaviors such as feeding specialization; hierarchical prey selection; use of search images; dive lengths and surface intervals; the use of tools and tactile and oral sensory systems used in foraging and feeding in intertidal areas in the Moss Landing Wildlife Area on February 12, 2020. [59] The Exxon Valdez oil spill of 24 March 1989 killed thousands of sea otters in Prince William Sound, and as of 2006, the lingering oil in the area continues to affect the population. Between 1803 and 1846, 72 American ships were involved in the otter hunt in California, harvesting an estimated 40,000 skins and tails, compared to only 13 ships of the Russian-American Company, which reported 5,696 otter skins taken between 1806 and 1846. Their habitats also need the root systems of mature trees, as well as fallen tree debris. [192], Sea otters can do well in captivity, and are featured in over 40 public aquariums and zoos. The nostrils and small ears can close. [144], In a few northern areas, fish are also eaten. Sea otters dive or play dead when they sense danger, or may signal alarm by raising a forepaw. Sea otter is found along coastal areas of the northern Pacific Ocean and the southern Bering Sea. Weight(M):22-45kg (F): 14-35kg (New Born): 1.4-2.3kg. Enjoy new thrills, adventures and fish-filled fun each time you visit, Support our work towards research and conservation, Special Events – Covid-19 Safety Measures, Sea urchins, snails, clams, abalone, mussels, crabs, scallops, fish, barnacles, octopus, worms and squid, Northern Pacific Ocean and southern Bering Sea, Marine habitat with rocky or muddy sea bottoms and kelp forests. Also known as the southern sea otter, this subspecies of otter is found from California to Washington with other subspecies found in Alaska, Canada, Russia, and Japan. [62], A male sea otter is most likely to mate if he maintains a breeding territory in an area that is also favored by females. However, temporary pair-bonding occurs for a few days between a female in estrus and her mate. [129], Although the southern sea otter's range has continuously expanded from the remnant population of about 50 individuals in Big Sur since protection in 1911, from 2007 to 2010, the otter population and its range contracted and since 2010 has made little progress. [181] Scientists agree that sea otters and abalone fisheries cannot exist in the same area,[181] and the same is likely true for certain other types of shellfish, as well. [59] To open hard shells, it may pound its prey with both paws against a rock on its chest. It is unique among the mustelids in not making dens or burrows, in having no functional anal scent glands, and in being able to live its entire life without leaving the water. First, its use of rocks to dislodge prey and to open shells makes it one of the few mammal species to use tools. [135] Great white sharks do not consume relatively fat-poor sea otters but shark-bitten carcasses have increased from 8% in the 1980s to 15% in the 1990s and to 30% in 2010 and 2011. [69] In California, sea otters usually breed every year, about twice as often as those in Alaska. During the nineteenth century, the southern sea otter was known along the entire Pacific coast of North America, from Alaska to central Baja California. In 1973, the population in Alaska was estimated at between 100,000 and 125,000 animals. Trophic Level:Omnivore. [120], In the late 1980s, the USFWS relocated about 140 southern sea otters to San Nicolas Island in southern California, in the hope of establishing a reserve population should the mainland be struck by an oil spill. [176], Sea otter habitat is preserved through several protected areas in the United States, Russia and Canada. A major Ainu epic, the Kutune Shirka, tells the tale of wars and struggles over a golden sea otter. [125] If populations continued to grow and ESA delisting occurred, southern sea otters would still be fully protected by state regulations and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which set higher thresholds for protection, at approximately 8,400 individuals. The Nuu-chah-nulth, Haida, and other First Nations of coastal British Columbia used the warm and luxurious pelts as chiefs' regalia. 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. The fifth digit or little toe is longer than all other otters, allowing the sea otter to spread its webbing wider when swimming. In California, great white sharks are their primary predator[154] but there is no evidence that the sharks eat them. Sea otters may help mitigate effects of climate change by their cascading trophic influence[151], Reintroduction of sea otters to British Columbia has led to a dramatic improvement in the health of coastal ecosystems,[152] and similar changes have been observed as sea otter populations recovered in the Aleutian and Commander Islands and the Big Sur coast of California[153] However, some kelp forest ecosystems in California have also thrived without sea otters, with sea urchin populations apparently controlled by other factors. Three separate sub species live along the coasts of Russia, Alaska, and California. [140] However, male and female otters have been confirmed by scientists off shores of the Baja Peninsula in a 2014 study, who hypothesize that otter dispersed there beginning in 2005. [130] In response to recovery efforts, the population climbed steadily from the mid-20th century through the early 2000s, then remained relatively flat from 2005 to 2014 at just under 3,000.

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