Sea Otters Unique Creatures

The California sea otter is a unique creature. Its population determines the health of the marine environment where it lives. Without sea otters, seaweed disappears at an alarming rate, and purple sea urchins overpopulate the waters. Sea otters keep the urchin population in check, so that seaweed can grow.

What is a sea otter?

A sea otter is a comical, furry animal that lives in the ocean. They lie on their backs. They have brownish grey fur that they comb and lick constantly. If the fur becomes soiled, the creature will die, as its fur acts like an insulation blanket. Sea otters have no fat. Clean fur will trap warm air. Dirty fur will not. A common relative to the sea otter is the weasel.

What does a sea otter eat?

Sea otters eat crustaceans or crabs, sea urchins and fish. It eats them while lying on its back, and often it has a rock to open the shell.


The otter’s worst enemy is population, especially oil slicks. In years past, the government has returned its numbers to nearly 100,000 after hunters nearly destroyed the species in the mid-1800s. The Endangered Species Act is one such form of legislation that has protected the species.

Where do sea otters live?

Sea otters live in the ocean. Specifically, they live about a half mile from the coastline. They live their entire lives in the ocean. They come ashore during strong storms and find caves and reefs in which to wait for the storm to pass. Their range is from the Gulf of Alaska all the way down the western coast to Baja California.


Sea otters outwardly look cute; they are extremely aggressive when they breed. The males will grab the females by the nose and drag them to where they want them. Her face becomes a bloody mess. She raises only one pup, young sea otter, each year. When she fishes for their dinner, she ties her pup to seaweed to keep it from drifting away with the tide. She can dive to depths of 318 feet.

Sea otters are an important indicator species. Currently, scientists have discovered that something is again killing them. They are not sure if it is a disease or population that is responsible for their decline. Monterey Bay Aquarium has teams of scientists that study this problem. Soon, they will know what is behind the problem. Whatever the problem, the scientists believe that humans are responsible so employing the right conservation measures can fix the problem. 


MCMXCVI IMP BV/IMP INC. Wildlife fact file