They are slow swimmers, about 9 kph under water. The sea otter shows no outward appearance of pregnancy. Males reach sexual maturity at 5-6 years, but may not mate until much later. Weaning: 2-11 months, Current IUCN Conservation Status for Sea Otters Conservation Evidence NOAA UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre: Sea Otters Check the Seafood Watch List for this species. On down the coast the Russian hunters moved to present-day California. Humans only have about 100,000 hairs in total on our heads. Yes they could! The sea otter would hold the stone in both paws, and hammer the side of the shell at the rate of 45 blows in 15 seconds! Their average dive lasts about a minute; the longest dive recorded, however, lasted 4 minutes. References updated! The marine otter has the second longest fur of all otters, with guard hairs measuring 20 mm (0.79 in.) To this day, sea otter trading/selling has become more rare. Sea otters must eat 25% of their body weight each day in order to stay alive. Lutra lutra exhibited a mean hair density of about 70 000 hairs/cm2 (whole body, appendages excepted), the mean individual density ranging from about 60 000 to 80 000 hairs/cm2. Females usually give birth about once a year. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK) The population in Southeast is growing steadily. Sea otters, Enhydra lutris, are listed as Endangered (EN A2abe) with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: ENDANGERED (EN) FAQs | Contact Us | About Us | Become a Sponsor! By the late 1700s, British and American hunters had begun harvesting otter pelts in California and selling them to trading outfits including Hudson’s Bay Company. Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species Thankfully, in 1911,sea otters received protection, as the International Fur Seal Treaty was established to prevent various exercies of trading. The semi-aquatic river otter had a fur density significantly greater than that for the primarily terrestrial ermine, whereas the semi-aquatic mink had a comparably intermediate fur density. Chinchilla's only have the highest for land mammals. With 8 … But it can also encourage illegal hunting and provide a cover for smuggling – the fear with tiger farming. Instead, they rely on two distinct characteristics of their fur for insulation: Its density and its texture. Both furs are great, but otter wears like iron where chinchilla is delicate. In the summer, a typical mammal sheds most of its underfur, like changing into a less heavy coat. The population decline likely began in the mid-1980s and declined at a rate of 17.5%/year in the 1990s. The pelage (covering, or coat, of a mammal, whether of wool, fur, or hair) is brown or reddish brown. To appreciate what makes fur dense, let’s set a baseline: human hair. Sea otters can spend their whole life in the ocean but will rest on land when the population density is high. Females are slightly smaller, weighing 14-33 kg and measuring 1-1.4 m in length. They bang the hard shell on the rock until it breaks open. Sea otter fur is the densest in the world with up to one million hairs per square inch. The northern sea-otter furs were the most highly esteemed of furs, alongside sable, by the Qing court. Alaska is unique. And here I sit with male pattern baldness kicking in....smug otters and … The sea otter relies on another insulation method —a thick fur coat. in length. Most mammals fur sheds rain and water, and keeps them warm by trapping air in the underfur (like a down jacket). GBIF network OBIS distribution map AquaMaps. At its upper range, that’s four times denser than the finest show chin, 16 times denser than a farmed mink, and 2,105 times denser than our human blonde. It will return to the surface to either eat or just to get a breath and dive again. Females tend to stay away from males except when mating. Unlike other marine mammals, the sea otter does not have a layer of blubber to help keep it warm. Sea otters are social, and tend to congregate in groups of gender, with pups and females in a group and males in another group. Thanks for the info. Laws have been passed to limit the use of fishing nets along the coastline. Thankfully, in 1911,sea otters received protection, as the International Fur Seal Treaty was established to prevent various exercies of trading. Size also matters; because small mammals are more vulnerable to heat loss, they generally have denser fur. Males weigh 22-45 kg and are 1.2-1.5 m in length. Females are slightly smaller, weighing 14-33 kg and measuring 1-1.4m in length. HOME | MARINE LIFE | CONSERVATION | SCIENCE | EDUCATION/JOBS | THE SOCIETY | OUR BLOG | DONATE | SHOP, "For all at last returns to the sea — to Oceanus, the ocean river, like the everflowing stream of time, the beginning and the end." The sea otter, Enhydra lutris, has a very effective method for catching food. Sea otter lifespan is 23 years (max) – average is 10-11 years. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Sea otters are a keystone species, meaning their role in their environment has a greater effect than other species. Sea otter fur is the densest of all mammals, with about 100,000 hairs per square centimeter. Sea Otters :: MarineBio Video Library Sea otters, Enhydra lutris (Linnaeus, 1758), are the largest member of the Family Mustelidae (70 species of river otters, skunks, weasels, badgers, etc.) Before the advent of modern conservationism, this meant that the densest furs were prone to over-harvesting. But as a guide, a dressed, farmed pelt has about 24,000 hairs per cm2. ()also: "Sea otters have an amazing 1 million hairs per square inch. Otter is not only dense but tough. And even if most chinchilla now live in pens and eat hay and pellets, there is absolutely no chance of them going extinct! Sea otters can be found in the frigid kelp forests of Northern California, and would not survive the cold without their specialized fur. A cormorant may follow the sea otter, and from the otters upturning of rocks, it can sometimes find a meal for itself. When a sea otter finds some food, like a shellfish, it will tuck it into loose skin folds in its armpits, which are used like shopping bags. Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species, Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department, Foraminifera: Hard on The Outside, Squishy on the Inside, “Why there is hope that the world’s coral reefs can be saved”, THE BANDA ARC, Life in Alor and the Banda Sea (4k), Trying to Make Sense of This Overwhelming World, Designed, built, tested, and managed by MB. Truth About Fur Blog – Research, opinions and analysis. When the otter swims, its coat traps a layer of air close to its body. Delayed implantation produces varied gestation times. Like other mammals, otters have two types of fur: long, stout guard hairs, and a more dense arrangement of short, fine underhairs. A mink’s hair density varies by season and body part. The underhairs average 7 to 9 mm (0.28-0.35 in.). Eight years ago a survey counted about 25,000 animals. The live on a diet of crabs, urchins, clams, and similar–often using rocks and tools to open shells. It may take two to three dives for abalone bashing, but the sea otter’s persistence eventually pays off. It swims to the bottom, and starts searching for food. You can see now why sea otters spend a large portion of time daily grooming themselves as they float on top of the water! Impressed? Populations collapsed, prices soared, and by the early 20th century a peasant trapper could feed his family for a month with just one pelt – if he could find one! Because the pelts of sea otters are thick, warm and beautiful, fur hunters killed hundreds of thousands of them—until not a single sea otter was visible along the entire California coastline. SEE ALSO: WHY IS AMERICAN MINK THE WORLD’S FAVOURITE FUR? Sea otters, Enhydra lutris (Linnaeus, 1758), are the largest member of the Family Mustelidae (70 species of river otters, skunks, weasels, badgers, etc.) Their small heads widen to long necks and shoulders, and they have flattened, well-muscled tails. SEE ALSO: AMAZING FACTS ABOUT FUR: DRESSING FOR THE ARCTIC. It makes sense, though, when you explain why it is so, however. So what is it about sea otter fur that’s so alluring? The fur of all otters is fine, dense, and velvety. The guard hairs, when clean, are waterproof, protecting the underfur which traps a layer of air to provide insulation. By the time the 1911 Fur Seal Treaty gave them protection, so few sea otters remained that the fur trade had become unprofitable. They inhabit temperate coastal waters with rocky or soft sediment ocean bottoms less than 1 km from shore. It all began with Californian miner Mathias Chapman who, in 1923, was allowed by Chile to take 11 live chinchilla home for breeding. When sea otters come to the surface they lie on their backs and use their stomachs as a table. ()also: "Sea otters have an amazing 1 million hairs per square inch. ... Fur density. Trade in the densest fur of all is still restricted, but the animal’s recovery is considered a great conservation success. For example, when sea otters are present in rocky habitats, they eat sea urchins and urchin density decreases as a result. Sea Otter – Defenders of Wildlife at a million hairs per square inch makes them the most densest and desirable furs on the planet. I was thinking that chinchilla's had the highest fur density but you're right. The … False ©️ Anita Ritenour , Some Rights Reserved, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) But was it too late? And so we find ourselves in the high Andes, home of the long-tailed Chinchilla lanigera and short-tailed Chinchilla chinchilla. This has helped some sea otter populations. The moniker “soft gold” was deserved. With its surprisingly strong paws, they can easily go through kelp beds in search of crabs or snails. An abalone has two methods of defense, one is a hard and heavy shell, the other its ability to clamp down with tremendous force when disturbed. They spend their whole lives at sea and are the only marine mammal that does not have a layer of blubber to insulate against the cold ocean water. And then the cavalry arrived, in the unlikely form of fur farmers. 18th and 19th centuries reduced sea otter populations to less than ˘2,000 individuals combined.
But unlike sea otters, the sea cows didn’t survive the onslaught. The sea-otter trade to China brought a great wave of merchant ventures to Nootka Sound in a brief twenty-year period. The southern sea otter was thought to be extinct. Offspring Produced: 1 (average) Males weigh 22-45 kg and are 1.2-1.5 m in length. Male sea otters usually weigh 22 to 45 kg (49 to 99 lb) and are 1.2 to 1.5 m (3 ft 11 in to 4 ft 11 in) in length, though specimens up to 54 kg (119 lb) have been recorded. That’s almost double Afro-textured hair, the least dense. On down the coast the Russian hunters moved to present-day California. These skills are also of great use when catching one of the sea otters’ favorite foods, abalone. The Otter Project Southern sea otters are now protected by the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, so they cannot be hunted. So what is all the fuss about with chinchilla fur? Sometimes they use a tool, such as a rock, to help them open the hard shells of their prey. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. They are at great risk of extinction due to many reasons such as fur trade, shark attacks, habitat degradation, oil spills ,fishing nets, disease and being viewed as competition. Oil coats the fur, destroying the blanket of air that keeps the animal warm. Prepare for furs so dense and soft that words to describe them are hard to find. Her food requirements are large, and so are the pups. Not even chinchilla compares. Increased pollution in our oceans is also a threat to sea otters. By modeling the sea otter as a cylinder and using its average mass (29 kg for males), height (1.22 m for males), and skull width (0.1 m), its density can be calculated: This density is less than that of seawater (~1025 kg/m 3 ), allowing the otter to float; it is also less than that of the average human body (1010 kg/m 3 ). The U.S. FWS's Threatened & Endangered Species System track information about listed species in the United States The sea otter, weighing a maximum of 45 kg, is generally brown in colour, with a distinctive white face. It has been estimated that the abalone can exert suction equal to about 4,000 times its own body weight. Then there’s the number of hairs per follicle. Well hold on. By the late 1700s, British and American hunters had begun harvesting otter pelts in California and selling them to trading outfits including Hudson’s Bay Company. This caused a huge downfall of the sea otters population, which only got worse. They will eat nearly any seafood they can find in their kelp forest foraging grounds. Chinchilla have as many as 1,000. This causes chilling and death (hypothermia). Perhaps fewer than 2,000 otters remained. Scientists estimate a growth rate that could put the current population over 40,000. Sea Otter Furs are the most sought after furs. As a precaution given the lesson of history, IUCN still classifies them as endangered, but Alaskan fishermen are now complaining the population is growing so fast, they’ve become a pest! In general, most animals are in prime condition during the winter months, and that is generally when trapping is allowed. and are the smallest marine mammal in North America. Also, farmed mink is denser than wild, and a dressed pelt is denser than a live animal. The Russians conquered Kamchatka, in the eastern edge of Russia, where they could harvest sable and sea otter fur. Pregnancy has been reported to be 4-12 months. North American river otters, also called Canadian otters, have long, muscular, streamlined bodies with short legs and fully webbed feet bearing non-retractable claws. Sea otters usually swim on their backs at the water’s surface using their rear flippers to move and their tails to steer. 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