The sea otter is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Adult sea otters typically weigh between 14 and 45 kg, making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, but among the smallest marine mammals. Unlike most marine mammals, the sea otter's... MORE
The sea otter is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Adult sea otters typically weigh between 14 and 45 kg, making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, but among the smallest marine mammals. Unlike most marine mammals, the sea otter's primary form of insulation is an exceptionally thick coat of fur, the densest in the animal kingdom. Although it can walk on land, the sea otter lives mostly in the ocean. The sea otter inhabits offshore environments, where it dives to the sea floor to forage. It preys mostly on marine invertebrates such as sea urchins, various molluscs and crustaceans, and some species of fish. Its foraging and eating habits are noteworthy in several respects. First, its use of rocks to dislodge prey and to open shells makes it one of the few mammal species to use tools. In most of its range, it is a keystone species, controlling sea urchin populations which would otherwise inflict extensive damage to kelp forest ecosystems. Its diet includes prey species that are also valued by humans as food, leading to conflicts between sea otters and fisheries. LESS
The Return of the Sea Otter to Monterey Bay California Academy of Sciences - California Academy of Sciences Dr. Stephen Palumbi discusses his work on developing new methods to help design marine parks for conservation. His latest book is an unusual environmental success story called The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival. How do an economy and an ecosystem recover in the face of record unemployment, devastating oil spills, and a rancorous public debate? California’s Monterey Bay offers a surprising and timely example. Once known for rampant whaling, overfishing, and putrid canneries, Monterey Bay has become a world-renowned tourist destination famous for its picturesque coastlines, enchanting otters, and popular aquarium.
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