This week is the annual recognition of some of the oceans' cutest residents, sea otters!
Did you know? Sea otters hold hands when sleeping so as to not float apart!
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Sea Otter Awareness Week, here are ten fun facts about these incredible animals:
- Sea otters sleep, eat, hunt, mate and give birth in the water! They'll oftentimes use kelp or giant seaweed to anchor themselves nicely in groups.
- Their dense, water-repellent fur keep sea otters dry and warm!
- Sea otters hunt for their food on the seafloor, but always return to the surface when it's time to eat.
- Floating on their backs, otters will oftentimes use their chests as tables. If the meal of the day is a mollusk or crab, the ever-resourceful otter will also use a rock to crack open its prey!
- Sea otter coats have "pockets!" They've been observed using the flaps of skin found under each front leg to stash prey during their dives.
- Sea otters can reach up to 4 feet in length!
- The average life span of a sea otter is 23 years.
- Sea otters are meticulously clean animals. They spend hours grooming their fur everyday!
- Considered a keystone species, sea otters are critically important to the health of coastline marine ecosystems! They prey upon sea urchins and other invertebrates that destructively graze on giant kelp. Kelp forests are home to a wide diversity of animals, help protect coastlines from storm surge and absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide!
- Because they were regularly hunted for their fur, sea otters were in serious danger of extinction in the early 20th century - only approximately 2,000 were left in the wild. Their numbers have jumped up since being granted protection as an endangered species.
Help us celebrate Sea Otter Awareness Week by sharing your favorite otter fact in the comments section!