After eating, they wash themselves in the ocean, cleaning their coat with their teeth and paws. More than 40 percent of California sea otter deaths are caused by parasitic, fungal, or bacterial infections, and studies have linked these Watch sea otters crack open mussels on stone anvils. The concept of Otter hunting is one that dates back to the 1700’s according to documented information. They have the densest fur in the animal kingdom. It grows from 4.9 to 5.9 feet (1.5 to 1.8 meters) long. Mothers nurture their young while floating on their backs. Today, sea otters are protected by law. It was killed by fishermen who thought the otters were eating too many of the fish they wanted to catch. It was the best way to preserve the pelts from these animals. A sea otter in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge USFWS/Lisa hupp. Sea otters have historically been hunted for their pelts. They are now primarily threatened by oil spills, conflict with the fishing industry and diseases that are intensified by pollution. The introduction of silk is another reason why the desire for items made from Otter decreased. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- Their fur which is one of the thickest in … Sea Otters Hunted To Near Extinction. In many locations including the United States capes, belts, and sashes made from the fur of Otters have been very popular. Then groups of hunters were sent out in canoes to find and kill Otters. Males weigh up to 90 lbs. They don’t have to go hunting through the forest to find it. Otters sometimes float in forests of kelp, or giant seaweed, in which they entangle themselves to provide anchorage in the swirling sea. Later on guns were used to hunt Otters but many still preferred trapping. Commercial hunters aren’t found of Otters either. The sea otter spends most of its time in the water but, in some locations, comes ashore to sleep or rest. It was discovered that the sea otters were predators of sea urchins, which were, in turn, predators of the kelp. As top predators, sea otters are critical to maintaining the balance of nearshore ecosystems, such as kelp forests, embayments and estuaries. Sea otters have thick underfur that traps air to form an insulating layer against the chilly waters (they have no insulating fat). They are often seen with a clam or mussel and a rock that has been deftly snared from the ocean floor. Sea otters have webbed feet, water-repellent fur to keep them dry and warm, and nostrils and ears that close in the water. Aleuts hunt sea otters in the kelp beds around the island by paddling skin canoes to the otters' habitat. They hold infants on their chests to nurse them, and quickly teach them to swim and hunt. In China it was standard for the royalty to wear robes made from them. All rights reserved. Then they too would be captured. The early hunting methods though included darts and arrows. The main reason that these Otters were hunted though was for their fur. They also are aware that Otters consume large amounts of them every single day. A sea otter’s tool of choice: typically a rock that … Remnant populations survived off central California and western Alaska. By 1740, when the Bering expedition explored the coasts of the Aleutian and Commander Islands, there were between 100,000 and 300,000 sea otters on the Pacific coast. They numbered from 150,000 to 300,000 worldwide before the fur trade. In fact, they were often captured first so that their distress calls would bring adult Otters to find out what was going on. Others did so out of a conscious effort to protect these animals from extinction. If you find that someone is engaging in such behaviors report it to the authorities immediately. This is one animal that they find to be out there for them to access. Sea otter hunters (1896), Source: Wikimedia Commons. Once commercial harvest ceased, sea otter numbers rebounded and they re-colonized much of their former range. This distinction goes to the sea otter. The sea otter were hunted almost to extinction. The tails of Otters were often made into items for men to wear. Then groups of hunters were sent out in canoes to find and kill Otters. The latter threat to these animals dates back to the 19th century when they were hunted to near extinction for their fur. They could also be killed in the water instead of just on land. The otter is one of the few mammals that use tools. However, as the cost of them continued to increase more people stopped buying them. There has long been a history of Otter pelts being displayed around the world. These otters were hunted or traded well over a thousand years ago, long before European contact and the maritime fur trade, and the results of the analysis show it. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Large-scale hunting, part of the Maritime Fur Trade, which would eventually kill approximately one million sea otters, began in the 18th century when hunters and traders began to arrive from all over the world to meet foreign demand for otter pelts, which were one of the world's most valuable types of fur. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/s/sea-otter.html. Those that were financially high in status also wore them. These traits are what have made the otter such an endangered species. Large hunting efforts were emerging that involved a large ship in the water. This would go on for days until the leader of the expedition felt that they had enough cargo to return home. Like other mustelids, sea otters are small animals that have short legs, short round ears, and thick fur. According to the aquarium, these adorable creatures were hunted to “near extinction” not too long ago. Sea otters are meticulously clean. Sea otters were successfully reintroduced to Washington, British … During the nineteenth century, sea otters were hunted almost to the point of extinction. They discovered the sea otters that they hunted for survival were extremely valuable and took 900 sea otter pelts to Russia. Since there isn’t much of a market for it people can’t make money like they used to by killing them. Just a few hundred years ago, thousands of sea otters peppered the coast of California, dwarfing the current population of less than 3000 animals. Otters Conservation Status. Sea otters are a keystone species, meaning their role in their environment has a greater effect than other species. In every square inch of its fur, there are around 850,000 to one million hairs. 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