Sea otters are extraordinarily devoted mothers. Female sea otters will carry their pups on their chests, constantly grooming their fur to make sure the pup stays warm and buoyant. She will leave her baby only to find food, and will wrap the pup in kelp to make sure it stays safe and in one place. Her milk, rich in fat like that of whales or seals, sustains her baby for up to six months in southern populations, or up to a year in northern areas. If the pup dies, the mother will continue to carry the little corpse for days following its death. Female sea otters have also been recorded adopting orphaned pups.
On the other extreme, however, if conditions become particularly harsh a mother sea otter may abandon her pup. In particular, on the rare occasion that a sea otter gives birth to twins, the weaker pup may be abandoned to ensure the survival of its sibling.
Throwback Thursday to last week when a wild otter mom gave birth to her pup in our Great Tide Pool. Thousands of people got to watch the birth live online, and millions more have been touched by this conservation success story. Thanks for following along with us in this otterly adorable event!