Otters are several of the many adorable aquatic animals. Their charming attributes are unparalleled, from their expressions to their usage of tools.

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Held every year throughout the last week in September, Sea Otter Awareness week spotlights the important function of sea otters in nearshore ecosystems the the north Pacific Ocean. Gain ready for part awesome otter facts and also photos. Us promise that you’ll be otterly entertained!

1. Forget everything you assumed you knew around otter species. Thirteen different species exist roughly the globe. The U.S. Is residence to 2 species: the sea otter and also the north American flow otter. River otters are lot smaller — averaging 10-30 pounds — through a cylindrical body and tiny head. Sea otters weigh more — roughly 45-90 pounds — with large, furry faces.

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If this southerly sea otter watch comfy, that’s because it’s settling under to remainder in a little patch that Egregia (feather boa kelp) at Moss Landing in California. Photo by Lilian Carswell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

2. Otters have actually some exciting relatives. Otters are part of the Mustelidae family, i beg your pardon is a family members of carnivorous mammals that consists of skunks, weasels, wolverines, and badgers. The sea otter is the biggest member that the weasel family, yet the smallest naval mammal in north America.

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A sea otter snoozes on its ago — mirroring its hind legs, tail and also webbed feet, which do otters an excellent swimmers. Photo by Bob Winfree, nationwide Park Service.

3. Many sea otters call Alaska home. Approximately 90 percent the the world’s sea otters live in coastal Alaska. Many live in the waters neighboring public lands including Kodiak nationwide Wildlife Refuge, Kenai Fjords nationwide Park, and Glacier Bay national Park. Southerly sea otters range along the mainland shore of California from mountain Mateo ar to Santa Barbara County, and also San Nicolas Island.

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Ain’t no party prefer a sea otter party! A team of otters remain together for shared protection native predators in the waters approximately Moss Landing, California. Photo by Lilian Carswell, U.S. Fish and also Wildlife Service.

4. U.S. And also international regulation protects endangered sea otters. Hunted come the sheet of die out by fur traders in the 18th and also 19th centuries, the couple of remaining sea otters (about 2,000 scattered in remnant nests throughout the north Pacific rim) were very first protected by the International fur Seal contract in 1911. Sea otters in the United says received added protections with the i of the Marine Mammal security Act and the Endangered types Act in the 1970s.

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A rescued sea otter pup is taken to Alaska SeaLife facility to be treated. Picture by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

5. Sea otters eat 25 percent of their body weight in food every day. Sea otters’ diets include sea urchins, crabs, mussels, and clams, which they’re known to crack open with a rock and eat when floating in the water. To find food, sea otters may occasionally dive together deep as 250 feet and will usage their sensitive whiskers to locate small prey within crevices or their solid forepaws to dig for clams.

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This sea otter determined on the every you deserve to eat crab legs for its night meal. Picture by David Ledig, office of land Management.

6. Sea otters have actually the thickest fur of any kind of animal. Their fur includes between 600,000 come 1,000,000 hair follicles per square inch. Unlike many other maritime mammals, otters lack a blubber layer. Instead, they depend on your dense, water-resistant fur to carry out insulation. To store warm, sea otters invest a large portion of their days grooming and conditioning their fur. This traps air and also heat alongside their skin.

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A sea otter grooms chin to stay warm. Photo by Lilian Carswell, U.S. Fish and also Wildlife Service.

7. Sea otters have the right to have a pup any type of time of the year. Southern sea otters breed and also pup year-round, while northern sea otter pups in Alaska are usually born in the spring. A newborn pup needs consistent attention and also will remain with its mom for six months till it develops survival skills. Fun fact: an otter pup’s fur is so thick that it can’t dive underwater until it gets its adult fur. This comes in handy once mothers leaving their pups safe floating top top the water’s surface ar while they forage for food.

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A mother sea otter carries her pup. Photo by Lilian Carswell, U.S. Fish and also Wildlife Service.

8. Don’t difficulty otters to a breath stop competition. An otter’s lung volume is 2.5 times higher than the of similar-sized floor mammals. Sea otters have actually been known to continue to be submerged for more than 5 minutes at a time. River otters, however, deserve to hold their breath for as much as 8 minutes. The boosted time underwater boosts otters’ chance to feeling prey and forage for food.

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A sea otter floats and grooms in the waters in ~ Glacier Bay nationwide Park and also Preserve in Alaska. Photo by the national Park Service.

9. Otters are crucial keystone species. A “keystone species” is a varieties that is an important to how an ecosystem functions because it has actually large-scale impacts on the areas in which it lives. Follow me the Pacific coast, sea otters assist control the sea urchin population. Fewer sea urchins in turn aid prevent kelp woodlands from being overgrazed. In California, research has found that sea otters likewise enhance algae beds, and also in Alaska’s Glacier Bay nationwide Park, sea otters’ expansion into the area significant a gradual return the a more diverse ecosystem and also an exciting moment in emigration efforts.

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By rubbing their flippers and also forepaws simultaneously, sea otters rise the performance of a to organize session. Photo by Lilian Carswell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

10. The otter is one of the few mammals that usage tools. A sea otter’s tool of choice: typically a rock that deserve to be provided as a hammer or anvil to break open up hard-shelled prey. Ever wonder whereby otters actually store these tools for safe keeping? They have a loose patch of skin under their armpit to save both the food they’ve foraged and their rock to crack it open.

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An otter enjoys a snack of fresh mussels at Kenai Fjords national Park in Alaska. Picture by ann Langan, nationwide Park Service.

11. A team of resting otters is called a raft. Otters love to rest in groups. Researchers have actually seen concentration of over 1,000 otters floating together. To store from drifting far from every other, sea otters will wrap us up in seaweed, forming something the resembles a raft.

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A raft the otters relaxing in a group. Photograph by Lilian Carswell, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

12. Otters could look soft and also cuddly but remain danger wild animals. Otters have solid teeth and also a powerful bite. So, whether you watch an otter on floor or at sea, be sure to maintain a safe distance of at the very least 5 kayak lengths or 60 feet from the otters. Learn more about continuing to be safe approximately sea otters.

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A sea otter in the Prince wilhelm Sound the Alaska, relaxes in a bed of kelp. Photograph by bill Tucker (sharetheexperience.org).

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If one otter notices you, it probably means you’re also close. Make sure to take pictures from coast or at least 5 kayak lengths indigenous the otters and always use your zoom. Love these fun otter facts? Check out this otter-worldly info.