Help keep an otter happy! It’s not too late for California residents to “check the box” on state tax forms to help save sea otters. The fund supports researchers and partners trying to understand the issues facing the threatened southern sea otter–and help the population recover.
the last week of september is sea otter awareness week. where most marine mammals rely on a layer of insulating blubber to keep warm in the water, sea otters make use of their dense fur coat.
in fact, their fur is so thick and soft that for centuries humans have hunted the animal. by 1929, sea otters had been virtually eradicated from alaska to california. and while populations of the animal are currently making a remarkable comeback in british columbia, they nevertheless remain an endangered species.
sea otters play a vital role in their aquatic ecosystem. in the absence of the animal, sea urchin populations explode, leading to the eradication of kelp forests, which in turn affects fish, sea birds and even eagle populations.
For several days this week, these two tiny sea otter siblings were floating around on their mom’s belly in Morro Bay, in central California. Alternately nursing and being groomed, or occasionally floating beside her, the little furballs are a rare pair: Roughly 2 percent of sea otter pregnancies result in the birth of more than one pup.
Normally, sea otters only give birth to one pup at a time. The first twin otters (.pdf) were only reported in 1986. Now, this pair has brought scientists and photographers to the chilly Morro Bay waters, straining pairs of eyes hoping to glimpse and study the otters as they rest and float near the kelp forests.
“They’re pretty rare situations,” Staedler said. “This is the fourth one that I know of.”
I am very sorry but I am very mad about the oil spill. It is killing nature. And it is killing the sea otters. It makes me very sad because my class is doing a report on sea otters. And sea otters are cute. Sea otters are an endangered species. Please clean up the oil spill.
Kelli Middlestead. Mrs. Ashley - 2nd grade Franklin School”
Letter from Kelli Middlestead from the Franklin School, Burlingame, California to Walter Stieglitz the Regional Director of the Alaska Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 04/13/1989
Twenty-five years ago today the oil tanker Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling over 250,000 barrels of crude oil and causing one of the worst oil spills and natural disasters in U.S. history.
This 2nd grade student’s letter to usfws is possibly our favorite record ever, but it’s especially bittersweet considering the magnitude of the disaster.
What are your memories of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill?
As you probably know by now, a wild baby sea otter was born this morning in our Great Tide Pool! For the last several days, a wild female sea otter had been using the protected basin of our Great Tide Pool to rest from the winter storms. Last night, just as the Aquarium closed, she was spotted once again slinking into the pool for some shut-eye. It’s rare for a healthy sea otter to visit the pool so frequently—we started to wonder if she was doing all right.
Well, mystery solved! Around 8:30 a.m., Aquarium staff witnessed a BRAND NEW pup resting on her belly, being furiously groomed by a proud momma. We’re talking umbilical-chord-still-attached, whoa-is-that-yep-that’s-the-placenta new-born otter pup!
In steady waves, Aquarium staff, volunteers, and then the days’ visitors made their way to the back deck to watch a conservation success story taking place—and become fluffier in front of their eyes. Not that long ago, sea otters were hunted to near extinction. Maybe 50 were left in all of California by the early 1800’s. But now, thanks to legislative protection and a change of heart toward these furriest of sea creatures, the otter population has rebounded to steady levels in the Monterey Bay, and with 3,000 total in central California.
We’ll keep you updated on this new otter family—mom may decide to head out any time. As of this writing though, she’s still grooming her pup and enjoying the comfort of our Great Tide Pool. The cute overload continues.
Sea otters often rest in groups called “rafts”. Rafting sea otters
sometimes hold paws to stay together. Sea otters segregate by sex.
Groups of females and their pups tend to stay in the centre of their
range, territorial breeding males stay close to the female groups, and
sub-adult male groups are seen on the outskirts of the range. These
sub-adult males are the first to move into new areas when they become
available. Male rafts are made up of all ages of males in non-breeding