Sea otters have been in the spotlight this week, and rightfully so. This aquatic mammal is rapidly declining around the world, and awareness campaigns like Sea Otter Awareness Week have increased awareness of the threat to their survival. If you’re interested in contributing to their cause or just want to learn more about this fascinating species, here are ten must-see sea otters from around the world that you might not know about but definitely should!
The North Pacific
If you’re in North America, your closest chance to see a sea otter is at Tofino on Vancouver Island’s west coast. The population there has grown to about 150 individuals, and is one of only three groups of sea otters north of San Francisco. There are over 20 species of sea otter, but they all have that same cute face and bottomless appetite for seafood!
The North Atlantic
Sea otters spend most of their time in and on the water, using their front paws to steer while swimming and eating. They can reach speeds of up to 18 kilometers per hour (11 miles per hour). When they sleep or rest, sea otters float on their backs with their feet tucked under them or wrapped around a large rock. In this position, they are often seen resting on ice flows in the southern part of their range.
South America’s Coastline
One of the best places to spot sea otters is on South America’s coastline. Check out this video of a rare sighting by a beach in Uruguay. The fuzzy animal came up to check out the camera, before rolling back into the water with a happy squeal!
Australia and New Zealand
Sea otters in Australia and New Zealand are mostly found on small islands, including Tasmania, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, and Macquarie Island. A few individuals have been sighted on mainland Australia but these sightings have not been confirmed. They can be seen in many places throughout New Zealand’s North Island including D’Urville Island and Great Barrier Island.
Sea otters were hunted for their fur, and at one point the population was dangerously low. Fortunately, they have made a comeback and are now protected by laws. In Asia, sea otters are found in Japan and China. They live in coastal waters where there is plenty of food to eat such as urchins, clams, crabs and abalone. Their diet mostly consists of invertebrates but will also eat fish when available.