northern sea otter


Sea Otters Feasting on Giant Pacific Octopus

Sea otters normally feed on small marine invertebrates like mussels, clams, and crabs, but every once in a while, they hit the otter jackpot and snag themselves a giant Pacific octopus! 

While it’s never been observed how the otters manage to catch and kill the octopus, it’s surely no easy feat. Male northern sea otters weigh in at about 70-90 pounds and are around 4.5 feet in length, with the females weighing around 40 60 pounds. Giant pacific octopus weight between 30-50 pounds and can attain lengths exceeding 20 feet and are incredibly intelligent. 

This mother otter and her pup were chowing down on an already-deceased octopus when we encountered them one of our tours. Mom wasn’t too keen on sharing her feast with us as she eyed us warily as we passed by! 

The Shedd Aquarium today announced the name of their insanely adorable otter pup, Luna. 

We here at the Field Museum have some extreme Otter Envy of our neighbors. 

There have been many hallway conversations about smooshing, squishing, and snuggling that little ball of fluff, that end a bit higher pitched than they started. 

© The Field Museum, Z86271.

Completed Northern Sea Otter. Carnivora Mustelidae Enhydra lutris Pre-installation into diorama. Specimen numbers 78762, 78763, 78764.

5x7 negative 


Some old male northern sea otters on a summer evening in Kachemak Bay, Alaska.

Just like how human hair grays as a person ages, the fur on an otter’s face lightens over time from brown to blonde, and sometimes even white.

You can also discern the two sexes by looking at the nose of the otter; if it’s entirely black, it’s likely a male. If there’s pink scarring, it’s a female; the males bite the females’ noses during mating and often cause damage.

Taxidermy Tuesday, Northern Sea Otters. Putting the finishing touches on the Northern Sea Otter diorama. 

© The Field Museum, Z86356.

Frank Wonder artist preparator with brushes and paint working on the background painting for Northern Sea Otter from Aleutian Islands group Diorama. Carnivora Mustelidae Enhydra lutris. Specimen numbers 78762, 78763, 78764.

8x10 negative