ABOUT SEA OTTERS

Sea otters are supreme marine mammals, and some of the most magnificent marine mammals ever. They demonstrate astonishing swimming abilities. And, despite the fact that they do not swim extremely quickly, averaging merely 1½ miles per hour, they are masters of aquatic calisthenics.

Sea otters habitually swim on the surface of the water, stomach up. They impel themselves by means of their rear flippers. To guide in addition to navigate, they employ their tails. If they are alarmed, conversely, they will swim with their stomachs downward, as well as submerge themselves, to get away.

There are a small number of reasons that sea otters will dive due to, aside from getting away from danger. They will dive up to 120 feet to locate food. The longest dive yet documented lasted for a complete four minutes.

Sea otters consume many types of food. These comprise clams, crabs, snails, starfish, and abalone, along with 40 additional aquatic organisms. In view of the fact that various victuals they consume, for instance, clams and snails, encompass inflexible shells, they will exploit a small number of apparatus to eradicate the defense. Case in point, they may utilize of a small rock to bash the casing.

Otters are indeed very resourceful and intelligent. They are also very adaptable. Some examples of their intelligence include the facts:

  • They are the only mammals other than primates that use tools.
  • Certain sea otters found that octopuses lived in pop cans on the bottom of the ocean. Later, an otter was recorded retrieving eight cans in a 15 minute period, with five cans containing tasty octopuses.
  • Individual sea otters living in the same area seem to have their own individual taste preferences. For example, one otter may like octopus while another may eat only crabs when octopus and crab are available in equal abundance.

Unfortunately, these majestic creatures were and still are poached for their beautiful fur. Their numbers have dropped significantly. However, the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act now protect sea otters, so they may still make a come back. We will find out in a couple of years…

Never trust a tool-using mammal.

After years of feeding the otters pre-shucked shellfish, the staff of the Vancouver Aquarium thought it would make an interesting educational display to have otters opening their food as they do in the wild - changed the otters' diet to in-the-shell mollusks and bivalves and provided rocks with which the furry li'l guys could bash the invertebrates open.

The attendants observed the otters briefly to determine that yes, their instincts were kicking in and they were recalling the subtleties of getting at the rich chewy centres. Confident that the public would eat the spectacle up, they closed up for the night and went home.

The next morning the aquarium staff were treated to a bit of a rude surprise. Would you give skeleton keys to dangerous maximum-security prisoners in jail? If not, then you might think twice before giving heavy stones to clever animals separated from freedom only by a thin wall of glass.

The otters were located and retrieved from the surrounding Stanley Park. The public was treated to the sight of a closed exhibit until the glass was replaced, at which time it featured somewhat grumpy otters consuming pre-shelled seafood.

Sea" ot"ter (?). Zool.

An aquatic carnivore (Enhydris lutris, ∨ marina) found in the North Pacific Ocean. Its fur is highly valued, especially by the Chinese. It is allied to the common otter, but is larger, with feet more decidedly webbed.

Sea-otter's cabbage Bot., a gigantic kelp of the Pacific Ocean (Nereocystis Lutkeana). See Nereocystis.

 

© Webster 1913.

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