Sea Otter awareness week with Ms. Mallory adventures
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Sunday is the tail-end of Sea Otter Awareness Week, so Mallory Lindsay joined Good Morning San Diego to share some fun facts about sea otters and some resources for homeschool parents to bring a little nature into their classrooms.
Fun Sea Otter Facts:
• Sea otters are keystone species, which means they play a very important role in their ecosystem. Sea otters keep kelp beds healthy by eating grazers- sea urchins- that feed on the sea kelp.
• They eat 25%of their body wait in food and are one of the few mammals that use tools. A sea otter’s tool of choice: typically a rock that can be used as a hammer or anvil to break open hard-shelled prey they keep in a loose patch of skin under their armpit to store both the food they’ve foraged and their rock to crack it open.
• Sea otters have the thickest fur of any animal. Their fur contains between 600,000 to 1,000,000 hair follicles per square inch. Unlike most other marine mammals, otters lack a blubber layer. Instead, they depend on their dense, water-resistant fur to provide insulation. To keep warm, sea otters spend a large portion of their days grooming and conditioning their fur. This traps air and heat next to their skin.
• Hunted to the edge of extinction by fur traders in the 18th and 19th centuries, the few remaining sea otters (about 2,000 scattered in remnant colonies throughout the North Pacific rim) were first protected by the International Fur Seal Treaty in 1911. Sea otters have reclaimed about 13% of their historic range.
• Could we start seeing sea otters in San Diego waters? Everyone is hopeful. San Diego was once part of a ‘no-otter zone,’ but has now removed that program and have spotted two otters since the zone removal in 2012
• Some fisherman believe sea otters may be a threat to their livelihoods, but these small members can create healthier kelp beds for fish to breed in. Also, a study from UCSD is showing the long-term benefits of sea otter recovery—such as healthier kelp forests, higher fish catches, carbon storage and tourism—could be worth as much as $53 million per year, If well-managed, these economic benefits could offset commercial losses to shellfish fisheries of $7 million per year.