Animal of the Week: Sea Otters


Two otters holding hands as they sleep.

Latanya Smith, MHS Media Writer

Do you remember watching Zootopia and seeing the otter that disappears and, because of his wife, starts the second act of Zootopia.  Although he doesn’t appear throughout the entire movie, we do get to know a little about his personality. He’s mannered, polite, loving, kind and gentle to his family, and others, like real life otters.

Sea otters are known for their cute and playful appearance, with their fluffy brown coats and adorable faces. They are one of the most beloved marine mammals in the world that can be found along the coast of the Pacific Ocean.

They are the smallest marine mammal in North America but are also one of the most important. They play a critical role in maintaining the health of their coastal environment.

The only marine animals that use tools are sea otters. They use rocks to crack open the shells of their favorite prey, like clams and mussels. They also use kelp to anchor themselves while they sleep so that they don’t get swept away by the current.

They have the densest fur of any mammal: they have up to 1 million hairs per square inch.  This keeps them warm in the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, this luxurious fur has made sea otters a target for fur traders in the past, which led to a dramatic decline in their population.

These animals are a keystone species in their habitat. They eat sea urchins, which helps keep the population in check. If sea otters were to disappear, the sea urchin population would be through the roof, and they would eat all the kelp forests, which are important habitats for many other marine species.

Otters are sociable animals. They hold hands while they sleep, so they don’t drift away from each other. They groom each other to keep their fur clean and healthy, and they even have a special call that they use to communicate with each other while they are diving for food.

Unfortunately, sea otters are still facing many threats today. Pollution, habitat loss, and climate change are all putting pressure on their populations. But fortunately, conservation efforts have led to an increase in sea otter populations in some areas, and organizations are working to protect these wonderful creatures.

Sea otters are much more than just cute and cuddly animals. They are important members of their coastal ecosystems and fascinating creatures.

By working to protect them, we can help ensure that they continue to thrive for generations to come.