You Oughta see an Otter

Oct 7, 2015 by Steve Franklin

Wouldn’t it be nice to look out your Rocky Point window and see Sea Otters playing and swimming in our waters? Well, at one time they were in the Sea of Cortez along the Baja Peninsula. After all Rocky Point has everything a sea otter could want. They would enjoy our Warm Water, and Abundant favorite foods in Scallops, Clams, Crab, Flounder and Shrimp as well as the peaceful calm water. But, then comes along man and ruins it.

As man set out to venture throughout the West in the 17 and 1800’s, he discovered many fascinating things. The downside to new discoveries is that a lot of things suffered. One of the items that suffered was the Pacific Coast Sea Otter. In the 1800’s the Sea Otter was nearly hunted to extinction for their beautiful thick fur. By 1900 there was an estimate of just over 1000 sea otters left in the world, which were mostly in secluded areas of Japan and Russia. At one time there was an estimated 300,000 Sea Otters in the world.

Today, the sea otter has made a comeback through conservation efforts. In the year 1900 you probably could not find a sea otter along the California coast. Just recently, there were over 3000 sea otters counted along the California coast from San Francisco to Santa Barbara. That is good news! And, possibly good news for Mexico as the sea otter makes its way South again.

Yes folks, there has been sightings of sea otters recently along the Baja Mexican coast on the pacific side. Hopefully the Mexican wildlife officials will uphold the conservation wildlife endangered species act and help protect Sea Otters that visit Mexico so one day there may be sea otters frolicking on the beaches of the Sea of Cortez.

This summer’s trip took my wife and me along Highway 1 visiting the Pacific Coast from California to Washington. My main objective was to locate and film sea otters. Luckily, we ran across quite a few of the furry little critters. We were fortunate enough to kayak alongside of them for several days near Monterey & Pismo Beach Bays.

Some interesting facts about Sea Otters; Sea Otters are the largest mammal in the weasel family. Yet, they are the smallest Sea Mammal on earth.

Sea Otters have the densest fur in the world of any mammal. There are 1 million hairs per square inch. The dense fur enables them to float with ease and to stay warm.

When Sea otters are not sleeping or hunting they will be seen grooming their fur. They groom their fur constantly to fill it will air bubbles that enables them to float better.

Sea Otters are the only mammal to use tools consistently. They will use rocks and other hard objects to crack open their food; Sea Urchins, Abalone and Clams.

Baby Sea Otters (pups) cannot swim when first born. They must be taught by their mother to swim and to dive underwater. The mother will hold them to their chest for hours and when the mother needs to dive for food they will wrap the pup in Sea Kelp to stay afloat.

The pups will stay with mother for 6 to 8 months before they set out on their own.

Sea Otters spend a lot of energy playing and foraging for food. For this reason they will consume 25% of their body weight per day.

A group of Sea Otters is called a “Raft’. The name is derived from Sea Otters floating together holding hands so they don’t float away in open water. As many as 2000 sea otters were recently counted together in a ‘Raft’ along the coast of Alaska.

Alaska has the highest population of Sea Otters in the world with as much as 75,000.

They can dive up to 250 feet deep.

They spend their entire life in or around the ocean. They will live for 20 years.

They walk funny on land. Their large rear feet used for paddling under the sea are out of proportion to the smaller front feet, so they sort of hop like a rabbit on land.

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