Tofino Wildlife Vol. 9 Sea Otter

Over the coming weeks West Coast Aquatic Safaris will present a compilation of information on the wildlife of the Pacific Rim as well as some of the flora and fauna. Today we will begin a look at the Sea Otter.

Floating amongst the kelp are our furry friend the Sea otter. Not are to miss these guys, they aren’t tiny critters you may have thought they would be. Sea otters can grow up to 5 ft tall and weigh up to 100lbs! Ranging from southern California to the Aleutian Islands, sea otters rarely come out of water as it has quite a bit of trouble traveling on land because of it’s webbed feet. Once under water, sea otters can swim up to 9 km/ hr. Relying on a thick coat and a high metabolism, sea otters have 100 000 hairs per square centimetre.

Sea otters feed mainly on urchins, crustaceans, fish, and shellfish. They must consume between 20%–25% of their body weight per day. Female Sea Otters tend to avoid males, as they often steal from them. Mating occurs in water usually late in the summer season, and pups are born 6-9 months later. Mothers give birth in the water and nurse pups by floating on their back, pups sit on their mothers chest. Predators include Killer whales, sharks, California sea lions, and Bald eagles. Another threat to the Sea Otter is oil spills. Oil spills destroy Sea Otters thick coats of fur,  destroying the insulation and causing them to die of hypothermia.

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