FAQ: Why are sea otters important?

What is special about sea otters?

Its fur is the densest of any animal on Earth—an estimated 1 million hairs per square inch. That’s because, unlike its fellow marine mammals, it has no blubber to keep it warm. The sea otter is one of the few mammal species on Earth to use a tool to help it hunt and feed.

Why is the sea otter considered a keystone species?

Sea otters are a “keystone species” which means that they can exert top-down pressure via predation on sea urchins, which are grazers upon kelp. As urchin density decreases from sea otter predation, so does the grazing pressure on kelp and as a result kelp forests flourish in the presence of sea otters.

Are otters good for the environment?

Otters also have a pivotal role in river ecosystems. They are predators, meaning they help control the populations of food species they prey upon. This affects the ecosystem as a whole, and as a result, their presence is a signal that the ecosystem is healthy.

Why are sea otters important for kelp forests?

In the kelp forest, it eats sea urchins and other animals that graze on giant kelp. With sea otters helping to keep the urchins under control, kelp forests can thrive and support a rich community of plants and animals.

Can sea otters be pets?

It is illegal in all US States to keep this indigenous otter as a pets. Exotic animals have many guidelines regarding their maintenance in captivity, but possession laws do change deepening on the State. It is illegal to keep almost all otters as pets in North America, with one exception.

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Do otters kill each other?

Other species may do more killing. But few species are violent in quite as disturbing a way as the otter. For one thing, sea otters murder other animals even when they don’t get food out of it, just for fun or something. At 105 min into the encounter, the sea otter released the pup, now dead, and began grooming.

Is Sea Otter dangerous?

Otters might look soft and cuddly but remain dangerous wild animals. Otters have strong teeth and a powerful bite. So whether you see an otter on land or at sea, be sure to maintain a safe distance of at least 50 yards and never feed sea otters. Learn more about staying safe around sea otters.

What would happen without sea otters?

Without sea otters, sea urchins can overpopulate the sea floor and devour the kelp forests that provide cover and food for many other marine animals.

What animals eat sea otters?

In this manner, sea otters are keystone predators in the kelp forests where they live. They are not at the top of the food web, however, and are eaten by orcas, great white sharks and other large predators. Sea otters are quite large, weighing up to 100 pounds (45 kg) and reaching lengths of nearly 5 feet (1.5 m).

What is killing the sea otters?

Among California sea otters, a protected species whose numbers are closely monitored, Toxoplasma infections contribute to the deaths of 8 percent of otters that are found dead, and is the primary cause of death in 3 percent. Toxoplasma can also kill marine mammals, as scientists who study them have long been aware.

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What relationship exists between the sea otters and sea urchins?

The sea otter and kelp also have a mutualistic relationship. The sea otter eats sea urchins which if there is a large population makes the kelp endangered. Once the kelp dies it floats up and provides the sea otter with a source of food. Since both organisms are benefitting this is an example of mutualism.

Why did otters decline?

In the late 1950s and early 1960s otters underwent a sudden and catastrophic decline throughout much of Britain and Europe. The cause was probably the combined effects of pollution and habitat destruction, particularly the drainage of wet areas.

What happens when baby sea otters are in trouble?

When baby sea otters are in trouble, these furry helpers come to the rescue. Without its mother, a sea otter pup can’t survive for long. So the team rushes the pup to the aquarium. There, an older sea otter will care for the baby as if it were her own.

How do sea otters stay safe?

How do sea otters protect themselves? Sea otters have three basic ways to escape predators: fleeing; taking refuge in the kelp where they live; and coming up on land. They also have strong teeth they can use in interactions with other sea otters.

Do sea otters live in the sea?

Although it can walk on land, the sea otter is capable of living exclusively in the ocean. The sea otter inhabits nearshore environments, where it dives to the sea floor to forage. It preys mostly on marine invertebrates such as sea urchins, various mollusks and crustaceans, and some species of fish.

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