The sea otter’s feet are webbed which are good for picking up speed in the water. As top predators, sea otters are critical to maintaining the balance of nearshore ecosystems, such as kelp forests, embayments and estuaries. They have a thick coat of long black or brown fur and are so buoyant that they cannot dive underwater. Giant otters (genus Pteronura) are found mainly in slow-moving rivers and creeks within forests, swamps, and marshes. Males otters are often seen hundreds of miles north and south of the current home range, recently near San Diego, in search of new territory. Th… Sea otters have been found to play a pivotal role in the habitat and marine life that inhabit a kelp forest. (Merriam, 1904) They live on a wet coast or in the ocean where they find their prey. Most sea otters remain in habitats with rocky substrate, as their prey tend to be more plentiful in these areas. They live on a wet coast or in the ocean where they find their prey. Fun Facts for Kids. These underwater gardens are filled with the otter’s prey, including sea urchins, clams, crabs and abalone. Sea Otter’s tails are smaller than other otters to reduce surface area. An estuary is the mouth of the river and where the tide meets the stream. This range decreased significantly during the fur trade during the 18th and 19th centuries, with excessive hunting nearly driving the species into extinction by the early 1900s. Family: Mustelidae An “indicator” species is an organism that is relatively sedentary and tends to bio-magnify and/or be sensitive to contaminants. Sea otters eat between 20-35% of their own body weight daily. They thrive in warm, coastal waters and usually remain within a kilometer from the shore. (19.8 kg). Southern Sea Otter Range Expansion and Habitat Use in the Santa Barbara Channel, California By M. Tim Tinker, Joseph Tomoleoni, Nicole LaRoche, Lizabeth Bowen, A. Keith Miles, Mike Murray, Michelle Staedler, and Zach Randell . Male sea otters have multiple female partners and are territorial during the breeding season from September to November. A 2014 study found that sea otters along the southern California coast were almost 10 times more likely to be located within kelp habitat than outside, while outside kelp beds sea otter numbers declined with distance from the edge of kelp canopies. Protections given to sea otters tend to ‘shelter’ and offer benefits to other species, habitats, and ecosystems including human beings. Assess sea otter distribution, behavior and habitat selection in the vicinity of natural oil and gas seep areas (e.g., Coal Oil Point, Santa Barbara County) 4. The southern sea otter was widely believed to be extinct due to the expansive fur trade of the 18th and 19th centuries, which reduced the global population, once 150,000 to 300,000, to roughly 2,000 — a number at which the species seemed unlikely to survive. Southern sea otters can be found along California's central coast, from San Mateo County in the north to near Santa Barbara in the south. Sea otters in general have a varied diet but research has shown that individuals tend to specialize on a few main prey species and this specialization in prey preference is passed on from mother to pup. Determine the extent of movements and spatial use patterns by sea otters along the southern California coast 2. 5. Habitat and Range. When the water temperatures are too cold sea otters reduce heat loss by floating … Today, southern sea otters live along the central coast of California; northern sea otters live along the coasts of Washington, Canada, and Alaska. Sea otters prefer coastal habitats within a mile of the shoreline. Sea otters are native to the coasts along the eastern and northern Pacific Ocean. Today southern sea otters have reclaimed about 13 percent of their historic range: the mainland coastline from San Mateo County to Santa Barbara County, California, and San Nicolas Island, Ventura County (as a result of translocation efforts initiated in 1987). Life Cycle and Habitat of Sea Otters. They are a keystone species, essential to the ecosystem, and they are facing some serious threats! But due to the fur trade, their numbers plummeted in the early 1900s. Southern sea otters, also known as California sea otters, live in the waters along the central California coastline. This marine mammal can live on land with the same ease as it can live in the water without surfacing for days. The otter's habitat is in danger, though. http://www/werc/usgs.gov/ProjectSubWebPage.aspx?SubWebPageID+1&ProjectID=, Sign in|Recent Site Activity|Report Abuse|Print Page|Powered By Google Sites. Natural disaster Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach; Millie debuts at the Sea Otter Habitat on Feb. 27, 2020; Southern sea otters faced possible extinction just a century ago Subspecies: nereis Pups are often seen bobbing in the water or wrapped in kelp screeching for their mothers when they dive to forage for food. Diet: Sea Urchins, Mollusks, Crustaceans and some species of fish . A small population of sea otters lives at S… They are usually seen in rocky marine habitats where there is a high abundance of kelp canopy and typically in water depths about 20 m. Kelp canopy is an important habitat component used for resting and foraging. Our responsibility is management of these important natural resources in Ventura, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz, and Santa Barbara Counties. Most Sea Otter "raft" in kelp beds with other otters. Research has shown that up to 60 percent of southern sea otter mortality is due to infectious diseases which are attributed to known land-sea linkages. They do most of their foraging within about half a mile of shore. Sea otters once ranged from Mexico to Alaska and even to Japan. Sea otters are very vulnerable to oil spills from coastal tankers, which is a primary human related reason why the otters are listed. In a kelp forest, sea urchins can graze on the kelp and eat their holdfasts, resulting in deforesting the kelp from an area. Northern sea otters are slightly larger than Californian otters. They prefer the shoreline to the deeper waters. Information and Media Sources: Southern Sea Otter. Taxonomy: California’s southern sea otter has been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 1977. The … Adult sea otters standard length is on average 4 ft. 3 in. Humans only have about 100,000 hairs in total on our heads. A re-evaluation of the role of killer whales Orcinus orca in a population decline of sea otters Enhydra lutris in the Aleutian Islands and a review of alternative hypotheses. Choose from high quality, high res, hd, widescreen, and other options. Molting of their fur takes place gradually throughout the year and frequent grooming is essential to maintain its insulative properties. Sea otters have a specialized gland that secrets oil to enhance the water-repellent quality of the fur. When the water temperatures are too cold sea otters reduce heat loss by floating … Currently the southern sea otter population is estimated at just above 3,000 animals. The listing of Southern sea otters is primarily due to habitat degradation, such as oil spills, and human activities, like entanglement in fishing nets, which impact the otters. Southern sea otters live along a stretch of less than 400 kilometers (250 miles) of the California coast around Monterey Bay. Three separate sub species live along the coasts of Russia, Alaska, and California. In fact, sea otters do not cause local extinction of species. (Linnaeus, 1758) When pups are born they are about 2 feet (0.6 m) long and weigh 4-5 lbs. Southern sea otters have been actively managed for their conservation and recovery since listing on the federal Endangered Species Act in 1977. Sea otter is found along coastal areas of the northern Pacific Ocean and the southern Bering Sea. Sea otters generally forage in nearshore waters shallower than 60 feet (18 m) but have been recorded diving to 300 feet (90 m) or more. southern sea otter population should be designated a DPS. Common name: Southern or California sea otter 6. The animals that they prey on devour kelp forests. The sea otters have a flexible skeleton and their face is small and round. They are usually seen in rocky marine habitats where there is a high abundance of kelp canopy and typically in water depths about 20 m. Kelp canopy is an important habitat component used for resting and foraging. Such as, when a human wants to build a house near the coast because he or she is a fisherman. Otter skeleton sketch based on 1947 illustration. The Ventura FWO website is a portal that provides information and guidance for the conservation, protection, and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants, and their habitats. Sea Otters have very distinct habitats. Southern sea otter pup Langly was orphaned when her mother received a fatal bite from a great white shark. Incidence of disease in sea otters is also correlated with contaminants such as tributyltin (used as an anti-fouling agent in boat paint), DDT (a banned pesticide) and PCBs. Sea Otters have "pockets" in their skin and fur so they can tuck away a food item until returning to the surface to eat. Still, they remain constrained to a geographically small area on the central coast of California relative to their former coast-wide range, with population numbers far below those of the estimated optimal sustainable population size. Now, the only indigenous population of Southern Sea Otters resides along the coast of central California. Photo Taken At Aquarium Of The Pacific, Long Beach, California.   Sea Otters spend most of their life at sea, but will come ashore in bad weather or to avoid predators. We only ever rescue one sea otter pup every couple of years, and we do not have non-releasable adult sea otters that would have survival skills to pass on. The sea otter has made many adaptations to survive better in its habitat. Kuker, K., L. Barrett-Lennard. The life of a southern sea otter Sea otters spend most of their time near the shore. California kelp forests have some of the highest primary productivity rates (conversion of sunlight to living material) of any naturally occurring ecosystem on earth and are the most diverse ecosystem of the temperate latitudes on earth. Humans have 100,000 pieces in total on their head, while otters have up to one million hairs per square inch. Sea Otter Facts. Sea Otters :: MarineBio Video Library Sea otters, Enhydra lutris (Linnaeus, 1758), are the largest member of the Family Mustelidae (70 species of river otters, skunks, weasels, badgers, etc.) This predator-prey relationship enhances kelp production and it is a widely accepted ecological concept that the more diverse and complex an ecosystem, the more stable the ecosystem. They also have pockets of loose skin under each foreleg for storing their tools and to hold prey it has found on the seafloor. Sea otter use a variety of strategies for finding their food. 2. The short, more dense, under layer of fur can have as many as 1 million hairs per square inch, which is the densest of any mammal. Sea otters naturally thrive in nearshore habitats.   (1.12m) for females. There is no surrogacy program for northern sea otters at this time at all, anywhere in the world. Another threats to sea otter that you can see is the habitat destruction. The population is most secure in Russia. An estuary is the mouth of the river and where the tide meets the stream. Habitat: The Southern Sea Otter can be found in Russia, Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, California, and Oregan. EcoHealth, 1(3): 239-245. Sprout, a sea otter pup suffering from domoic acid toxicity, came to our hospital not long after Langly arrived. Order: Carnivora The sea otter is one of the few animals to use tools. Sea otters use rocks to remove prey from their shells. Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), also known as California sea otters, have been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 1977. Luckily, her mother was able to get Langly safely to shore where our trained responders were able to rescue her. There is a small population that lives south of Point Conception in the “No-Otter” management zone and a small “experimental” population of translocated lives at San Nicolas Island. 4. Predators and Prey of the Sea Otter The sea otter's diet includes about 40 marine species, including urchins, crabs, clams, abalones, mussels, and snails. Sea otters float on their back and break open their prey by pounding it on the rock or other tool on their chest. (2-2.3 kg). However, abalones are restricted to deep crevices, out of reach of otter and human harvesters. What to Know. They typically nurse for 6 to 12 months and are then on their own. Scientific Name Enhydra lutris. Without sea otters, sea urchins can overpopulate the sea floor and devour the kelp forests that provide cover and food for many other marine animals. That is … Species: Lutris IUCN Red List Status Endangered. Otters use tools like rocks and sometimes soda cans. The population is most secure in Russia. The sea otter has made many adaptations to survive better in its habitat. The southern sea otter also spends a lot of their time in estuaries. Although they hunt on the sea floor, they return to the surface to eat. Historically, southern sea otters have inhabited nearshore coastal ecosystem from northern California to Baja California in Mexico. (29 kg), while adult females weigh 44 lbs. Sea otters eat about 25% of their weight every day, and is arguably the number one cause in sea otter deaths, when they cannot forage enough food to feed themselves. First, the sea otter uses their feet to reduce or maximize heat loss when water temperatures are too hot or too cold. It sometimes is considered a subspecies of Lontra canadensis.The southern river otter is listed as endangered, due to illegal hunting, water pollution, and habitat loss Genus: Enhydra They do however alter the distribution of prey species due to their predator-prey relationship. The otter's habitat is in danger, though. The sea otter spends most of its time in the water but, in some locations, comes ashore to sleep or rest. Most species are entirely dependent on aquatic habitats for food. The sea otter is also considered an “umbrella” species. After eating, they wash themselves in the ocean, cleaning their coat with their teeth and paws. Enhydra lutris nereis Rather than driving their extinction, sea otters may be responsible for the relatively large size of abalones in California, in comparison with other parts of the world. Main Characteristics Of The Sea Otters Anatomy. An umbrella species is a species whose conservation confers protection to a large number of naturally co-occurring species (Roberge and Angelstam, 2003). Sea otters naturally thrive in nearshore habitats. Prepared in cooperation with Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (OCS Study BOEM 2017-002) Open-File Report 2017–1001 The sea otter’s teeth are adapted for crushing these prey items with their molars being broad and flat and canines rounded and blunt. For sure, these people will destroy the habitat of the sea otter. Unlike other marine mammals, sea otters do not have a thick layer of blubber and rely upon their water-resistant fur for insulation. Enhydra lutris nereis, the southern sea otter, is native to central and southern California and was described by Merriam in 1904. Sea otter fur color varies in shades of brown turning silver-gray to white with age in males. Sea otters are the textbook example of a “keystone” species and have a considerable impact on the structure and complexity of their nearshore ecological community. Southern Sea Otters once filled the waters off the Oregon coast, but due to the popularity of their fur for human clothing, they were hunted to extinction in the state by the early twentieth century. They are usually seen in rocky marine habitats where there is a high abundance of kelp canopy and typically in water depths about 20 m. Kelp canopy is an important habitat component used for resting and foraging. Prepared in cooperation with Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (OCS Study BOEM 2017-002) Open-File Report 2017–1001 Some researchers hypothesize that sea otters and their voracious appetites have played an important role in shaping the natural history of the California coastline and the Pacific Rim. Sea otter counts are conducted annually by the U.S. Geological Survey. Like their Northern Sea Otter cousins, these mammals prefer to spend their day around the massive kelp forests located just offshore. Southern sea otter range expansion and habitat use in the Santa Barbara Channel, California Open-File Report 2017-1001 Prepared in cooperation with Bureau of … Sea otters feed on a wide variety of marine invertebrates including clams, mussels, sea urchins, marine snails, crabs, and abalone. They eat 40 plus different types of species such as clams, urchins, and snails. Sea otter tends to be relatively sedentary in comparison to other marine mammals and eat a wide variety of prey species that are filter feeders. Kingdom: Animalia Sea otters are part of the weasel family. The current sea otter range extends from north of Half Moon Bay in San Mateo county south along the California coast to Point Conception in Santa Barbara county. Female otters give birth to a single pup nearly every year with peak pupping season from January through March. They eat 40 plus different types of species such as clams, urchins, and snails. The current range extends along the California coast from Half Moon Bay in the north to Santa Barbara in the south, though individuals are occasionally seen outside these limits.   Identify important sea otter resting and foraging areas adjacent to manmade structures 3. Home. Historical Home Range – California to Baja, CA, Dedicated to Protecting the California Sea Otter, sea otters may be responsible for the relatively large size of abalones. The sea otter is covered in dense fur that consists of two layers. They are also seen in areas of expansive open soft sandy bottom habitat and coastal wetland waterways such as Elkhorn Slough. Occasionally, sea otters are seen further offshore in water depths of between 40 and 60 meters and on rare occasions in deeper offshore areas where there is an abundance of food. and are the smallest marine mammal in North America. Their fur is sensitive to soiling from oil or other contaminants and soiling of the fur by oil generally results in hypothermia or pneumonia and eventually death. In southern Chile the marine otter is found almost exclusively along exposed rocky seashores; farther north it may inhabit estuaries and fresh water. Sea otters are charismatic and a favored target for protection, yet their protection has created large conflicts with two major industries, oil transportation and fishing. Otters are usually found no more than a few hundred meters from water. Great for desktop, mobile, Android or iPhone backgrounds or a Facebook cover photo. 3. Sea otters play a vital role in the health and stability of the nearshore marine … Sea otters have a very high metabolic rate and must consume the equivalent of 20 to 30 % of their body weight per day to maintain their body heat. The southern river otter (Lontra provocax) is a species of otter that lives in Chile and Argentina.Although called a "river otter", it inhabits both marine and freshwater environments. Sea otters use rocks, other shellfish, or man-made objects to pry prey from rocks and use them as a hammer or anvil to break open the hard outer shell of some prey species. The otters' habitat hasn't really budged beyond their current central California enclave, however, over the past 20 years. Southern Sea Otter . The sea otter's tail at the base is very plump and as it reaches the tip flattens, this helps the sea otter swim at a quick pace under water. Southern Sea Otter as a Sentinel of Marine Ecosystem Health. Southern sea otter range expansion and habitat use in the Santa Barbara Channel, California Open-File Report 2017-1001 Prepared in cooperation with Bureau of … California’s southern sea otter has been listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 1977. Reintroduced populations in British Columbia and Washington state. M O L L U S K S. Habitat: Coasts of the Northern & Eastern North Pacific Ocean. River otters (genus Lutra) inhabit all types of inland waterways, as well as estuaries and marine coves. There is also a secondary pupping peak in late summer to early fall which may be associated with pup mortality during the winter months. Habitat: The Southern Sea Otter can be found in Russia, Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, California, and Oregan. The population is most secure in Russia. Additionally, issues of habitat protection have been especially troublesome in the ESA debate, and our knowledge of southern sea otters provides valuable insights into protecting marine habitats. Sea otters can spend their entire life in water. This population, of roughly 2,400 individuals, is believed to be increasing at approximately 5 to 7 percent per year (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1996). Southern sea otters inhabit shallow nearshore coastal ecosystems within 1-2 km from shore. Southern sea otters can live to approximately 15 years for males and 16 years for females. From evidence found in the fossil record, sea otters and their ancestors have been a component of California’s coastal marine environment for the past five million years. Sea otter populations exhibit a high degree of spatial structure due to the limited mobility of reproductive females. Sea otters play a vital role in the health and stability of the nearshore marine ecosystem as a keystone species The southern sea otter also spends a lot of their time in estuaries. Adult males weigh on average 64 lbs. As southern sea otter population and range expanded in the first half of the 20th century, otters came into contact with lucrative abalone populations in Southern California, with commercial fishers attributing the decline in abalone populations to the reemergent otters (Carswell et al., 2015). 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