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Sea otters are born swimmers with long, sleek, streamlined bodies with webbed feet. These aquatic members of the weasel family are often seen floating on their backs.
See the fact file below for more information on the sea otters or alternatively, you can download our 25-page Sea Otter worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Habitat, Anatomy and Life Cycle
- Common Name: Sea otter
- Scientific Name: Enhydra lutris
- Type: Mammals
- Diet: Carnivores
- Average Lifespan in the Wild: Up to 23 years
- Average Size: 4 feet
- Average Weight: 65 lbs
- Group Name: Raft
- Gestation Period: 4 to 5 months
- Habitat: Waterways of all continents except Australia and Antarctica.
- Sea otters are found almost everywhere in the world. They live in wet areas such as coastlines, oceans and marshes. Most sea otters live in the offshore forests of the Russian and Alaskan Pacific coasts.
- Sea otters are one of the smallest marine mammals in the world yet the largest member of the weasel family.
- They are carnivores, meaning they eat meat such as clams, mussels, abalone, urchins, snails, crabs, other marine species and small mammals.
- Sea otters are the only marine mammal that does not have blubber to keep it warm. Instead, they have the densest fur, keeping their body temperature around 100 degrees.
- Their fur has two layers: the outer guard hairs are around 1 ⅓ inches long, and the layer underneath the guard hair remains dry. This feature also makes them buoyant.
- Sea otters have forepaws, which can rub, twist and pull with great strength. Their paws have retractable claws and palms with tough pads.
- Under their forearms are baggy pockets used to store food and sometimes stones.
- They have webbed hind legs, which look like flippers. They can swim on their backs easily but walk awkwardly on land. Their muscular tail helps them steer and swim.
- A sea otter’s lower jaw is equipped with four incisors. They have flattened and rounded molars used for crushing and chewing food.
- Above and below the water, sea otters can see clearly. In addition, they also have good senses of smell and hearing.
- When hunting for prey, they use whiskers to sense vibrations in the water.
- When underwater, their nostrils and ears close. They can hold their breath for 5 minutes.
- Among the northern population, female sea otters give birth between May and June, while southern populations peak between January and March.
- The gestation period for female sea otters is around 4 to 5 month. A unique feature of this otter species is that they can delay implantation for about four to twelve months. Females can breed twice a year. They usually give birth to a single pup that weighs between 1.5 and 2.5 kgs. There are rare instances of twins, but only one pup usually survives.
- Pups are born well-developed with their eyes open, a set of teeth and thick fur. After 12 weeks of constantly grooming and feeding a pup, it is considered a juvenile.
- Mother sea otters nurse their pup for eight months. In addition, they teach their pups how to swim, look for and retrieve food.
- At four years of age, female sea otters reach sexual maturity, males follow after a month.
Behavioral Traits and Conservation Status
- Sea otters, like other of its species, are very social animals. They live in groups called a raft.
- A raft is usually comprised of single-sex sea otters that can range from 10 to a hundred individuals.
- They are nocturnal mammals, which means they hunt and prefer to move around at night.
- They love grooming themselves.
- They groom by licking their fur, scratching it against rocks or rubbing it on logs. Sea otters can survive their whole life without leaving the water.
- Sea otters are one of the few mammal species that are known to use tools like rocks to hunt and eat food. Moreover, they are the only marine mammal that can flip over boulders found on the seafloor.
- According to the IUCN Otter Specialist Group, populations of most otter species are declining, except for river otters found in North American rivers.
- Over the past 45 years, sea otters have experienced a 50% population decline.
- Due to their thick, soft pelts, sea otters were hunted extensively before the international ban was enforced.
- Among the dangers they face today are oil spills, shark attacks, conflict with humans, competition for food and habitat degradation.
- One of North America’s top facilities for sea otter care is the Vancouver Aquarium.
- Today, almost 90% of the sea otter population lives in the coastal waters of Alaska.
Sea Otter Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about sea otters across 25 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Sea Otter worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the sea otters which are born swimmers with long, sleek, streamlined bodies with webbed feet. These aquatic members of the weasel family are often seen floating on their backs.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Sea Otter Facts
- Sea Otter Card
- Physical Appearance
- Know Your Otter
- Alpha Otty
- Otty Saga
- Taxonomic Classification
- Who Eats What?
- Tale or Fact
- Sea and River
- It’s an Otter
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Link will appear as Sea Otter Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 5, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.