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California Southern Sea Otters
Transcript of California Southern Sea Otters
Sea Otter (enhydra lutris)
There are three subspecies of the sea otter: the southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis), the Alaskan sea otter (Enhydra lutris lutris), and the Asian sea otter (Enhydra lutris gracilis).
California has the Southern Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris nereis)
- The sea otter is one of the smallest marine mammal species, but it is the heaviest Mustelidae (river otters, weasel family, etc).
-Long hind legs; broad, flat, and webbed paws; short forelimbs; and retractable claws.
-Swim on their backs using their flippers for propulsion and tails to steer.
- Has no blubber and relies on its thick fur to keep warm by trapping air in the coat.
- The fur consists of long, waterproof guard hairs and dense underfur.
-Kelp forests, rocky habitats, soft sediment oceans, or wetland waterways (Elkhorn Slough) with bottoms less than 1-2km from shore and water depths of 20m
-Temperate coastal waters in the central and north Pacific Ocean
-Along the coast of California, from Half Moon Bay to Gaviota State Beach at Point Conception in Santa Barbara County
--Before the 18th and 19th centuries, they ranged from Oregon and as far north as Alaska.
--The California population used to be about 16,000 animals. Hunted for their pelts
--Thought to be extinct in California until they were found on the Big Sur coast in 1938
What does enhydra lutris nereis translate to?
- Enhydra, derives from the Ancient Greek en, "in" and hydra "water," meaning "in the water."
- The Latin word for lutris, means"otter."
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum/Division: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Suborder: Caniformia
- Family: Mustelidae
- Genus: Enhydra
- Species: Enhydra Lutris
- Subspecies: Enhydra Lutris Nereis
The US Fish & Wildlife Service listed the southern sea otter as
on January 14, 1977, but the World Conservation Union has listed them as endangered world wide. :(
Did You Know?
Sea otters have the densest fur of all mammals. They have 100,000-400,000 hairs/sq cm whereas humans only have 20,000 hairs on their whole head!
Otters stay in groups called rafts. In order to keep from drifting apart at sea, they hold hands while sleeping and wrap themselves in kelp.
Diet and Eating Habits
-Diurnal creatures, but look for food during the twilight hours
-Dive up to 37m for their food for an average of 1 minute before coming back up for air
-A loose pouch of skin under each foreleg is used to hold food items gathered from the sea bottom.
-Strong paws search through kelp forests for crabs or snails
-Use their stomachs as tables
-The only tool-using mammal that uses rocks to open the hard shells of their favorite food, abalone!
Cause of Loss
--More than 30%-50% of necropsies have infectious diseases; leading cause of death
--Chemicals such as DDT, PCBs, and tributyltin are also contributors
--Parasitism, gastrointestinal, heart, fungal, and bacterial diseases are only some of the causes
This 5 yr. plan was issued back in 2009.
of the plan is to increase & maintain otter abundance.
If they reach a population of
~3,100 in three consecutive years
, they may be considered for delisting under the ESA. Until there are
8,400 independents (pups not included)
, they will still be considered “depleted” under the MMPA.
It's hard to pinpoint an exact cause to their decline, thus the plan is mainly to monitor them.
How are we doing
2011 Dead strandings: Negative.
Through December 2011, the number of dead otters recovered was a new recorded high of 335 over the previous high of 305 in 2010.
2011 Mortality by age-class: Negative.
An increase in mortality occurred in reproductive adult age classes this year. Mortality of pups and immature otters decreased slightly.
2012 Pup to independent ratio: Positive.
The 2012 survey results showed a sizeable increase in the pup to independent ratio compared to 2010.