Truly Aquatic Mammals
Sea otters spend almost all their time in the water, whether resting, sleeping, eating or giving birth. They might put their paws over their eyes to sleep during the day. Sometimes they sleep with all four feet held up in the air or wrap themselves in kelp to stay anchored in one spot.
Sea otters don't have blubber. They rely on incredibly thick fur, up to 100,000 hairs per square inch, to keep them warm and dry. (You have about 150,000 hairs on your whole head.) They spend half the day grooming, working in natural oils and air bubbles with their forepaws, to keep their coat water resistant.
Elkhorn Slough is home to one of the largest populations of southern sea otters on the California coast. Today, protected by federal law, their numbers have increased to about 2,800 along 140 miles of central California coastline. But experts say they should number about 13,000. Researchers want to know what's killing the otters.
Image source: Eric Chan
Otters will eat just about anything they can grab-- clams, crabs, sea urchins, abalone and lots of other marine animals. They can dive as far as 120 feet and hold their breath for several minutes to find food. An otter must eat about a quarter of its body weight every day.
Image source: Ian L