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Sea Otters: Adorable but Threatened

Sea Otters: Adorable but Threatened

Sentinel Species at Risk

Due to Pollution and Over-fishing

By Jim Fiddes

Danbury HS & PNWBOCES, Yorktown, NY

Slide 2

Threats to Sea Otter Population

Threats to Sea Otter Population

Disease : EPM & toxoplasmosis

Contaminants: in water & in prey

Starvation: hi food need

Entanglement & Entrapment: lines/nets

Predation

Oil Spills: ExValdez 5K

Difficult Environment

Slide 3

Sea Otter Biology

Sea Otter Biology

Enhydra lutris; Mustelidae

150K Alaska; 1.3K Calif.

>60 lbs; >20 years; >4 long

high metabolism: 20% body weight in food daily; 3x human

dense fur: ~100K/sq in; grooming critical

semi-retractable claws; rear outside toe is longest

lungs 2x : other mammals

whiskers locate prey, feel vibrations

Slide 4

Sea Otter Anatomy

Sea Otter Anatomy

Muscles for grasping & swimming; side to side on back, vertical

flexible spine, longer outer toe; hips hold legs for swimming, more than walking

Slide 5

Sea Otter Biology

Sea Otter Biology

Body temp: 100 F. hold paws & feet up to conserve heat

extremely flexible spine; can reach all body to groom--

no blubber, oils & bubbles in fur insulate

pouches near back feet to store food

tool user: breaks shells with rock, on sternum

can dive to 300; 4 minutes

Slide 6

Sea Otter Biology 3

Sea Otter Biology 3

Related to weasels & skunks

Social learning: mother teaches pup foraging skills; recognizes unique pups call

playful & intelligent as dogs

raft = group of sea otters

strong jaws & sharp teeth: canines to break, incisors to scoop meat from shells

frequent short naps, feed day & night

Slide 7

Sea Otter Ecology 1

Sea Otter Ecology 1

Slide 8

Sea Otter Ecology 2

Sea Otter Ecology 2

Slide 9

Sea Otter Ecology 3

Sea Otter Ecology 3

Slide 10

Sea Otter Ecology 4

Sea Otter Ecology 4

rugged coastline

steep shore contour

bay collects run-off

Slide 11

Polluted Food--eat hearty & die .

Polluted Food--eat hearty & die .

Shellfish concentrate pollutants, which accumulate in otters, & otter milk

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