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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


October 20, 2001 - Issue 47


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 Sea Otter


 by enchanted


Sea otters are sleek, furry, streamlined marine mammals that live along rocky Pacific Ocean coasts, bays, and kelp beds. They are found from the coast of California through Alaska and along the eastern coast of Russia to northern Japan. They are a type of weasel. Their scientific name is Enhydra lutris (Genus, species). The sea otter is a protected species because of overhunting (they were once hunted for their thick, dense fur).
Anatomy: Sea otters are about 4 feet (1.3 meters) long and weigh about 45-82 pounds (20-37 kilograms). They have webbed hind feet which they use to swim; the forefeet are smaller. They have semi-retractible claws. Their ears and nostrils close when they're underwater. Sea otters sleep and rest on their backs, usually anchored in a kelp (seaweed) bed.

Fur: Sea otters are kept warm in the cold Pacific Ocean by their dense fur and high metabolism. Sea otters have the densest fur of any mammals; it has over half a million hairs per square inch. Careful grooming with their forepaws keeps the fur waterproof. Oil spills cause the fur to lose its waterproof quality, causing the sea otter to get hypothermia, usually killing it.

Diet: Sea otters are carnivores (meat-eaters). They eat crustaceans (like crabs), bivalves (like clams, mussels, and abalone), octopi, squid, and fish. They hunt for their prey in the ocean and on the sea floor. These intelligent mammals use rocks to help crack open clams and abalone.

Predators: Some sharks and birds (like the Great White Shark and the Bald eagle) prey upon sea otters. On the land, some bears and coyotes eat sea otters.

Classification: Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Mammalia (mammals), Order Carnivora, Family Mustelidae (weasels, ferrets, minks, skunks, otters, badgers), Genus Enhydra, Species E. lutris.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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