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September 5, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Animal Of The Week – Sea Otter

Inhabiting the north-eastern Pacific Ocean is possibly the cutest of all marine mammals. Everybody knows the adorable faces and comically playful behaviour of the sea otter, but what else earns them the title of ‘Animal of the Week’?

Sea otters can dive up to 100 meters and close their nostrils and ears when doing so. Here, sea otters dig and overturn small boulders, hunting for and storing food in a small skin pouch on their chest. In this pouch, they also keep a unique rock, which they place on their belly and use for smashing shellfish open.

Unlike most marine mammals, sea otters don’t need a disgusting layer of blubber to keep themselves warm. Rather, they have a lush coat of fur. In fact, their fur is the densest of any animal, with up to one million hairs per square inch. Sea otters have been observed rubbing their fur to squeeze out water and have even been known to blow air under their coat, allowing it to be waterproof enough to completely keep cold water away from their skin. The ability of the fur to repel water is highly dependent on cleanliness, as such sea otters have particularly supple skeletons, allowing them to groom every part of their bodies.

Between 1741 and 1911, sea otters were extensive hunted for their fur causing populations to decline from 150,000-300,000 to as low as 1000 individuals. Don’t fret though. Global hunting bans have resulted in current populations being estimated at over 100,000.

Sea otters tend to rest together in ‘rafts’ of 10-100 animals. Often wrapping themselves in kelp or holding hands to keep from drifting apart. In 2007, a YouTube of two sea otters holding hands got nearly two million views in two weeks. Too cute!

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