YOU OUGHTA SEE THE OTTER!

While we have seen whales, sea lions and pelicans, it's truly not very often that we get a chance to view a sea otter!   This otter has been hanging around in front of Pillar Point RV Park for several days.   The otter floats on his back eating and resting, traveling with the current along the length of the jetty. 

While most of us think of sea otters as cute little guys, they are actually quite big!   They are members of the weasel and skunk family.  The average sea otter can weigh between 50-99 pounds and grow up to five feet in length!  They can swim up to 5.5 mph in the water and live from 10-15 years.  They can walk on land.

The sea otter eats mostly marine invertebrates such as sea urchins, abalone, crab, various molluscs and crustaceans, and some species of fish.   They are unique in the fact that they will use a rock as a tool to dislodge their prey and help open shells.  They eat about 25% of their body weight in food every day and will dive up to 330 feet when foraging for food.
(A 150-pound person would have to eat 35 to 40 pounds of food a day to match that rate.)

Fun fact: An otter's coat has flaps of skin under each front leg like a pocket. An otter uses them to stash prey during a dive, which leaves its paws free to hunt some more.

Today, there are estimated to be just over 106,000 otters worldwide, with just under 3,000 in California.  They live in the Pacific ocean along the northern Californian coast, Oregon, Washington and up through Canada.  In fact, the majority of wild otters live in Alaska!  Otters can also be found in Russia and Japan.

The otter relies on his thick hair to keep them warm.  They have between 850,000 to a million hairs per square inch...a person has around 100,000 hairs on their whole head!

Sea Otters are called a keystone species because they are so critical to the health and stability of the near shore marine ecosystem called the kelp forest.  They eat sea urchins and other invertebrates that graze on giant kelp.  Without sea otters, these grazing animals can destroy kelp forests and consequently the wide diversity of animals that depend upon kelp habitat for survival.

Friends of the Sea Otter
http://www.seaotters.org/
Friends of the Sea Otter is an advocacy group, founded in 1968, dedicated to actively working with state and federal agencies and other groups to maintain, increase and broaden the current protections for the sea otter.

Monterey Aquarium
http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/marine-mammals/southern-sea-otter
They have a sea otter display where you can watch them swim, eat and play.  You will find an otter cam on this page as well.

Sea Otters
http://seaotters.com/
All the latest news about sea otters

Video
Here's a video of the otter near the jetty.  Notice how he rolls as he swims....he does that to fluff its fur with air bubbles so their hair doesn't get matted.  Matted hair does not keep out the cold.

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