Sea otters were once locally extinct from the Washington coast, but in 1969 and 1970, 59 sea otters were relocated there from Alaska. These otters have thrived: today more than 1,800 individuals call the Washington coast home! Most of them live in the waters of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.
Each year, researchers survey the population – the 2016 census was organized by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, with assistance from volunteers and staff from the sanctuary, Seattle Aquarium, and Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. One large raft of over 600 sea otters was observed off the mouth of the Hoh River!
How many licks to the center of an ice enrichment? Don’t ask sea otters! They cut straight to the chase, cracking open the ice to get to the tasty treats inside. Something to consider later on tonight…
Our sea otter aquarists are always creating fun enrichments for our resident otters, including hiding treats in blocks of ice for the otters to crack open and pry out!
These ice-and-food puzzles allow our rescued otters to stimulate natural behaviors by cracking open the treats, much like they would do with shellfish in the wild.
Weirdly I haven’t been quite able to wrap my head around sea otters so this is me trying to fix that! The last one is my favorite - I think I kinda started to figure out how to put together a sea otter at that point.
Almost all of these were studies based on various photos I found.