Sea otters are adorable. With thick fur, an engaging personality and an athletic body, they‘re always a hit with people. And while we all love them, they need our help more than our admiration. Southern sea otters are endangered on the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Georgia Aquarium is doing its part to help by educating the public on sea otters and the dangers they face in the wild. Commercial fishing nets, oil spills and predation from great white sharks is the biggest threat to the survival of sea otters, but with research and safer fishing practices, we can help them thrive in the wild. These are amazing creatures, and to prove it, here are five facts about sea otters you may not have known.
1: Sea otters have some of the densest fur in the animal kingdom, with 350,000 to 1,000,000 hairs per square inch. Living in cold waters requires superior insulation, which means some seriously thick fur. Georgia Aquarium sea otter posing for the camera.
2: Sea otters can dive up to 330 feet when looking for food. Sea urchins, scallops, clams, and more can’t hide from a determined sea otter.
3: Sea otters are more than just cuddly and cute; they’re smart, too! Sea otters use tools, one of the only other mammals aside from primates to do so. The clam lunch they plan on enjoying might require using stones to open, and the otters are experts at doing just that.
4: They eat…a lot. Sea otters must eat 20-25 percent of their body weight every day to maintain normal body temperature. That’s a whole lot of scallops, mollusks and other delicacies.
5: Sea otters are a keystone species, helping maintain kelp forests by feeding on sea urchins, which can devastate kelp forests. Sea urchins can gobble up a lot of kelp if left alone, but luckily we have sea otters who can eat up to 50 sea urchins each day.
To learn more about Southern sea otters, visit GeorgiaAquarium.org.