10 Sea Otter Facts For Kids
A sea otter is a very friendly creature that can exist on land but which spends most of its time in the ocean. The sea otter is known for its thick fur coat which keeps it warm in the cold waters where it lives and for its very friendly nature. Even though it spends so much time in the ocean, the sea otter is not a type of fish but is a mammal, meaning it has live babies rather than laying eggs. If you’ve ever visited a zoo and have seen sea otters in an aquarium, consider some fun facts about these fun animals.
What They Look Like
1. Sea otters are typically considered very cute creatures because of their thick fur and because they’re somewhat small, usually between 30 and 90 pounds. They are technically considered weasels but they have soft and rounded paws and long whiskers. This makes them very unique when it comes to sea animals as they don’t have scales or soft skin like dolphins or sharks.
2. The fur of a sea otter is usually dark but it can also be shades of white or grey. This fur is so thick and soft that sea otters were hunted extensively for their fur many years ago, with so many of them being killed that laws had to be made to stop people from hunting them. While there used to be some 300,000 sea otters in the world, now there are only a few thousand because of all the hunting. Today they’re actually called an endangered species because there are so few of them.
How They Behave
3. The sea otter is an early morning creature, getting up to hunt and search for food before sunrise. Around mid-day they then usually take a nap in the water, then they get up and search for food again. They then also go to sleep at night.
4. Sea otters have a very strange habit that many people think is adorable. When they sleep, they lie on their back in the water and float very easily because of their thick fur. To keep safe, they actually hold each other’s paws so they don’t float away from each other! You can see many pictures of sleeping sea otters holding paws and just gently floating in the water.
5. To find food, sea otters usually dive down into the ocean to get fish and kelp, which is a type of seaweed that they eat. A sea otter can actually dive for up to five minutes but usually they make quick and short dives for food, just going underwater for a minute or so. Sea otters have a type of pouch under their chest, something like a kangaroo, and which they use to store food as they come back up out of the water from their dive.
6. When diving for food, a sea otter may actually turn over rocks and dig into the ground of the water to search for small shellfish and clams and other types of food. It also uses its front paws to catch fish rather than its teeth! This makes it very unique when it comes to animals you would see that live in and around the ocean.
7. A sea otter will also spend much of its time grooming its own fur, pulling out tangles and removing dirt and even water. They will even blow air onto their own fur to keep it dry and comfortable. When they eat they actually roll in the water to remove bits of food from their fur.
Other Fun Facts
8. A group of sea otters is called a raft. Most sea otters hunt and eat by themselves but then stay together in this group or raft when resting. A raft may have only ten sea otters but may also be a group of up to a thousand! Not only do they hold each other’s paws when resting but they may also wrap themselves in that kelp or seaweed to keep themselves safe.
9. While sea otters are often seen together when they sleep and rest, they typically spend much of their time alone. They also communicate through sounds; the females may coo when they’re happy and the males may grunt. They may also whistle or hiss or even scream when in trouble. Pups or babies also cry when in trouble or they need attention, and the sound is much like that of a seagull.
10. Pups are taught to dive and find food by their mothers. Usually they practice their dives for many weeks before they can actually find food. They may instead find pebbles and bright starfish but eventually they learn how to find actual fish and other food. Usually a pup is ready to be on its own as an adult by about eight months old.