They can swim as close as six feet off shore along the Olympic coast. Sea otters in US waters were originally distributed among Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California (the “sea otter states”). [93] Their northern range is limited by ice, as sea otters can survive amidst drift ice but not land-fast ice. [129] In response to recovery efforts, the population climbed steadily from the mid-20th century through the early 2000s, then remained relatively flat from 2005 to 2014 at just under 3,000. As a result of this increased energy requirement, sea otters consume 20–33% of their body mass per day in food. [129][130] As of spring 2010, the northern boundary had moved from about Tunitas Creek to a point 2 km southeast of Pigeon Point, and the southern boundary has moved from approximately Coal Oil Point to Gaviota State Park. Domoic acid was suspected to be a major component of the Southern sea otter (E. lutris nereis) UME in 2003.28 Prey vectors were thought to be mole crabs in some of the cases. In this zone, only San Nicolas Island was designated as sea otter habitat, and sea otters found elsewhere in the area were supposed to be captured and relocated. [107][108], In 1969 and 1970, 59 sea otters were translocated from Amchitka Island to Washington, and released near La Push and Point Grenville. The sea otter walks with a clumsy, rolling gait on land, and can run in a bounding motion. [117] By 1817, sea otters in the area were practically eliminated and the Russians sought permission from the Spanish and the Mexican governments to hunt further and further south of San Francisco. The boundaries of CSOGR were extended in 1959 to a single coastline segment with shoreline length ~165 km (McArdle, 1997). 1542, T.S. [156] Thus began what is sometimes called the "Great Hunt", which would continue for another hundred years. Protection of sea otters from hunting in US waters was extended by Presidential Proclamation in 1913 by US President Wilson, and by Executive Order in 1929 by President Coolidge. [55] The sea otter may also pluck snails and other organisms from kelp and dig deep into underwater mud for clams. and 13 (Nichol) explore the complex relationships between people and sea otters, both positive and negative, as sea otters have experienced recovery and established interactions with humans. Sea otter moms invest so much energy in raising their pups that they risk their own survival, a new study suggests. [165] Further restrictions were ordered by the company in 1834. Éva E. Plagányi, Douglas S. Butterworth, in Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals (Second Edition), 2009. [16] However, because of the species' reputation for depleting shellfish resources, advocates for commercial, recreational, and subsistence shellfish harvesting have often opposed allowing the sea otter's range to increase, and there have even been instances of fishermen and others illegally killing them. [181] Although many factors affect shellfish stocks, sea otter predation can deplete a fishery to the point where it is no longer commercially viable. North Pacific areas that do not have sea otters often turn into urchin barrens, with abundant sea urchins and no kelp forest. [175][176] Although disease has clearly contributed to the deaths of many of California's sea otters, it is not known why the California population is apparently more affected by disease than populations in other areas. [183] The health of the kelp forest ecosystem is significant in nurturing populations of fish, including commercially important fish species. [71] Twins occur in 2% of births; however, usually only one pup survives. The sea otter was formerly sometimes referred to as the "sea beaver",[19] being the marine fur-bearer similar in commercial value to the terrestrial beaver. In this pouch (preferentially the left one), the animal stores collected food to bring to the surface. Increased occurrence of exotic intestinal parasites from unknown sources, particularly a species of acanthocephalan not previously known in sea otters, has been associated with significant rates of fatal peritonitis in the population. [71] Pup mortality is high, particularly during an individual's first winter – by one estimate, only 25% of pups survive their first year. [141][142] Its prey ranges in size from tiny limpets and crabs to giant octopuses. [182] In some areas, sea otters are popular tourist attractions, bringing visitors to local hotels, restaurants, and sea otter-watching expeditions. Although air is a more efficient insulator than blubber (10 mm of sea otter fur is approximately equal to 70 mm of blubber), the fur requires high maintenance costs and does not readily allow heat dissipation that may be required following physical exertion. [140], Sea otters consume over 100 prey species. The Nuu-chah-nulth, Haida, and other First Nations of coastal British Columbia used the warm and luxurious pelts as chiefs' regalia. [26] With up to 150,000 strands of hair per square centimetre (nearly one million per sq in), its fur is the densest of any animal. The sea otter has a metabolic rate two or three times that of comparatively sized terrestrial mammals. In, Treaty for the Preservation and Protection of Fur Seals, Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, tribes on the Pacific coast of North America, "Multigene phylogeny of the Mustelidae: resolving relationships, tempo and biogeographic history of a mammalian adaptive radiation", "Multigene phylogeny of the Mustelidae: Resolving relationships, tempo and biogeographic history of a mammalian adaptive radiation", "Building large trees by combining phylogenetic information: a complete phylogeny of the extant Carnivora (Mammalia)", "Washington State Periodic Status Review for the Sea Otter", "Do differences in skull morphology and bite performance explain dietary specialization in sea otters? (, CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (. Primary risk factors are thought to be ongoing incidental taking in fishing nets, effects of contaminants, mortalities from diseases and exotic parasites, and shark attacks. [76] A pup, with guidance from its mother, practices swimming and diving for several weeks before it is able to reach the sea floor. [156] They returned to Siberia, having killed nearly 1,000 sea otters, and were able to command high prices for the pelts. These are the first documented sightings of otters this far south in 30 years. [152] The role of sea otters in maintaining kelp forests has been observed to be more important in areas of open coast than in more protected bays and estuaries. To keep from drifting out to sea when resting and eating, sea otters may wrap themselves in kelp. In the recent decades new concerns have emerged regarding a range of diseases and parasitic infestations that may be highly significant sources of sea otter mortality. In some areas, massive declines in shellfish harvests have been blamed on the sea otter, and intense public debate has taken place over how to manage the competition between sea otters and humans for seafood. [16][49][55] Prevention of oil spills and preparation to rescue otters if one happens is a major focus for conservation efforts. By continuing you agree to the use of cookies. [27] The fur consists of long, waterproof guard hairs and short underfur; the guard hairs keep the dense underfur layer dry. Heat can be conserved by closing the digits and placing the flippers against the abdomen, or dissipated by expanding the digits and exposing the interdigital webbing to the environment.

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