Friday, January 16, 2009

California sea otters

Yet another of the Pacific's marine mammals that suffered a heavy population crash thanks to human hunting. This one however is much smaller - the sea otter! There's two here one pulling the classic lying on back pose and the other sticing its head up on its chest.

sea otters

If you want to see these, its easy with bins or better yet a scope at Monterey. These are California Sea otters - there are two other subspecies. Its worth mentioning how weird these are - until 1982 people were seriously considering whether they were closer to the other otters or true seals. They are otters though and as such, at 45kg for males, are the heaviest mustelids by weight.

At one point we were down to 2,000 individuals thanks to hunting but now the numbers have rebounded. For a remarkably full description of sea otter conservation - population by population check out this wikipedia article. Julie Zickefoose recently mentioned how the giant river otters of South America love to periscope to check out humans and so were easy to hunt. I can't imagine the sea otters were any different. Check this out.

sea otter

I imagine the otter is curious about the method of locomotion deployed and the choice of hat.

Sea otters, whilst recovering, are subject to a very specific threat, toxoplasmosis carried by cats and opposums, and for that reason I'd ask readers on America's west coast with cats to do some googling and consider how they deal with used kitty-litter carefully.

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