Diet / Feeding The southern sea otter eats a wide variety of food, such as sea urchins, snails, clams, abalone, mussels, crabs, scallops, fish, barnacles, octopus, and worms, all of which it catches with its clawed paws rather than its mouth. Other common foods include fish, barnacles, and scallops.
- 1 Where does a sea otter eat?
- 2 Do sea otters eat sharks?
- 3 What does sea urchin eat?
- 4 How much do sea otters eat a day?
- 5 Do sea otters use tools to get their food?
- 6 Is a sea otter a diurnal animal?
What is a sea otter’s favorite food?
What Does the Otter Eat? – The food of an otter varies from place to place and habitat to environment because of how adaptable they are. A-Z-Animals. com Otters of the river are classified as generalist carnivores according to their diet. This indicates that they will consume virtually everything that they are able to catch.
- Fish, crabs, crayfish, frogs, turtles, snakes, birds, and the eggs of birds are some of their favorite meals.
- They also eat snakes and snake eggs.
- However, their eating habits tend to shift quite a bit depending on the region in which they are found.
- The Amazonian giant otters are extremely reliant on cichlids, catfish, and piranhas, and they will even hunt the powerful caiman if they had to.
These otters hunt in larger groups to better coordinate their prey acquisition. On the other hand, the diet of the North American river otter consists mostly of crayfish, trout, salmon, and suckers. They do, however, give priority to the consumption of larger fish because of the relative ease with which they may capture their prey, which moves more slowly.
They take in very little, if any, plant matter in their diets due to the fact that they are carnivorous animals, with the exception of the rare aquatic plant or root. They devote a significant portion of their time and energy to the pursuit of food and, as a result, have very little extra to spare. Otters of the sea and marine environments are just as hungry.
Even though they spend almost half of the day sleeping, they have to swim often in order to maintain their body temperature. It is believed that they consume around 25% of their body weight each and every day in order to fuel the high metabolisms that they possess.
- This indicates that a 50-pound otter has to ingest between 10 and 15 pounds of food each day.
- It is difficult to provide exact details about the diet of sea and marine otters because they are found all along the American Pacific coast.
- However, some of their favorite foods include sea urchins, sea stars, crabs, squids, clams, mussels, and snails.
Other foods include squid, clams, mussels, and snails. When opposed to river otters, sea otters’ diets contain a significantly lower proportion of fish. By helping to keep the numbers of their prey in check, sea otters are an extremely important component of marine ecosystems.
- When there are excessive numbers of sea urchins, kelp forests can be eradicated, which results in a decrease in the biological variety of the coastal environment.
- Urchins have been responsible for the destruction of a significant portion of Oregon’s kelp forest ever since humans brought the population of sea otters to the brink of extinction.
The kelp forest is in desperate need of restoration, and fortunately, there are plans in place to reintroduce sea otters.
Where does a sea otter eat?
Sea otters are scavengers that primarily consume hard-shelled invertebrates for food. This includes a wide range of clams, mussels, and crabs as well as sea urchins. They consume their prey in an unusual way that is fascinating to observe. The crustaceans and huge rocks that sea otters bring back from their dives on rocky reefs are their primary hauls.
As soon as they reach the surface, they roll around and float on their backs while carrying the rock on their tummies. They place their prey, which is encased in a shell, on top of the rock and use it as a surface to bash it against in order to get at the meatier areas of the animal. Individual sea otters or smaller groups of sea otters have been seen acting in this way on several occasions.
Otters of the sea spend their whole lives in the water, including while they are asleep. Because they are required to rest near the surface, they frequently wrap themselves in enormous kelp in order to prevent themselves from drifting away. The number of sea urchins can be reduced by sea otters, which in turn encourages the growth of gigantic kelp, which is a preferred food source for sea urchin grazers.
- Because of this, sea otters are considered to be essential predators in the kelp forests in which they make their home.
- They are not, however, at the very top of the food web since they are consumed by larger predators such as orcas, great white sharks, and others.
- Otters of the sea may weigh up to 100 pounds (45 kg) and grow to lengths of about 5 feet, making them one of the largest marine mammals (1.5 m).
The act of mating and the delivery of the young both take place in the water, and the males maintain harems that consist of many females. The length of time that mothers breastfeed their children can go up to eight months. When the moms go down to the depths to search for food, they secure their young to the kelp so that they do not become separated from them.
- Instead of relying on a large layer of fat to insulate them from the chilly waters of the ocean, sea otters rely on their incredibly thick fur, which is the thickest of all creatures.
- Sea otters spend their whole lives in the water, yet since they have so many hairs per square inch, their skin never truly gets wet, despite the fact that they spend their entire lives there.
Unfortunately, its thick fur was also nearly responsible for the extinction of this species. Due to the great demand for sea otter pelts in the 18th and 19th centuries, the population of this species was nearly driven to extinction for their fur, which was used to make coats and other types of apparel.
According to estimates provided by scientists, the overall population dropped to levels that were less than one percent of their numbers prior to the killing. There has been considerable recovery in the population of sea otters in recent years, and they are now legally protected over a significant portion of their area.
Despite this, experts continue to hold the belief that population sizes are shrinking as a direct result of oil pollution, shifts in the food webs of the north Pacific, and the destruction of habitat; hence, this species is regarded as endangered (highly vulnerable to extinction).
- This iconic species faces a very high risk of extinction if ongoing conservation efforts and legal protection are not implemented immediately.1.
- The greatest length for an adult sea otter is 4.9 feet (1.5 m), and their maximum weight is 100 pounds (45 kg).2.
- The fur of sea otters can contain up to one million hairs per square inch, making it the fur with the highest density of any mammal.3.
Unlike other marine mammals, sea otters do not have blubber or fat on their bodies, which helps keep them warm. Instead, they maintain their body temperature through the use of their two coats of fur. The lower layer acts as an air trap, while the upper layer acts as a barrier for the air and helps the sea otter remain buoyant.4.
- Each day, sea otters consume invertebrates that account for twenty-five percent of their total body weight.
- These include sea urchins, crabs, clams, snails, and other marine animals.5.
- Sea otters may split apart their prey with the use of rocks as quickly as 45 blows in just 15 seconds.1 6.
- The record for the longest dive by a sea otter is 4 minutes and 2 seconds, while the record for the deepest dive by a sea otter is 318 feet (97 meters).1 7.
The maximum lifespan of a female sea otter is 20 years, but a male sea otter may only reach 15 years.2 Sailors for the Sea is an ocean conservation group that is committed to educating and engaging people all around the world who sail and boat. Oceana has joined forces with Sailors for the Sea.
- Kids Environmental Lesson Plans (KELP) is a program that was designed by Sailors for the Sea with the intention of cultivating the next generation of ocean stewards.
- To download kid-friendly activities that get get their hands dirty with marine science, either click here or below.
- References: First, the Marine Bio Conservation Society.
Second, the IUCN Red List.
What eat otters in the ocean?
In the interest of conservation, researchers from the United States Geological Survey have been computing a population index for the imperiled southern sea otter every year since the 1980s. The population was counted at 2,944 in the spring of 2014, which is only a marginal rise from the previous count in 2013 of 2,939.
- This suggests that the population is maintaining its current level.
- The population index for southern sea otters would need to be higher than 3,090 for three years in a row before the species could even be considered for removal from the “Threatened” species list.
- The majority of the increase in the levels of nonpoint pollution seen in the coastal waterways of California may be attributed to human activity.
It is thought that pollution caused by agricultural and urban runoff, as well as industrial and municipal discharges, is a contributing factor in the extremely sluggish to nonexistent expansion of the southern otter population. The chemicals, sediments, excess nutrients, and other pollutants that are hazardous to these marine species are carried into the ocean on the runoff from the land.
- In addition, the excrement left behind by land animals such as raccoons, possums, and domestic and wild cats can carry disease-causing germs, parasites, and viruses.
- Sharks, orcas (also known as killer whales), coyotes, brown bears, and even eagles are among the sea otter’s most dangerous natural enemies.
The misconception that southern sea otters pose a threat to commercial fishermen and divers who harvest sea urchins for profit has led to the unlawful killing of sea otters in this region. Sharks and killer whales are two of the animals that prey on sea otters.
How much does a sea otter eat?
Intake of Food An otter’s high metabolic rate, which is necessary for the production of body heat, necessitates that it consume a significant amount of food. Each day, river otters consume between 15 and 20 percent of their whole body weight in food. Otters of the sea consume between 25 and 30 percent of their body weight per day.
Can you eat an otter?
Otter meat has a flavor profile not dissimilar to that of roast pig when it is correctly prepared. It is dark red in color, has a fine grain, is juicy and soft, and has a fine texture. It is often prepared by gradually cooking it in a broth, and it was an important source of nourishment for Native Americans.
What are 3 interesting facts about sea otters?
Since 1977, the Endangered Species Act has recognized the southern sea otter as a species that is in danger of extinction and has placed it on the list of vulnerable species. The population of southern sea otters is thought to number somewhat more than 3,000 individuals at the present time.
- As a keystone species, sea otters are extremely important to the overall health and balance of the marine environment that is located around the coast.
- The fur of sea otters has around one million hairs per square inch, making it the densest fur of any animal (We have 100,000 hairs on our entire head).
The average lifespan of a sea otter in the wild is somewhere between 15 and 20 years. An adult female California sea otter weighs around 25 kilograms (nearly 50 pounds) on average. Males may reach a maximum weight of up to 15 stone. The length of an adult California sea otter is around four feet on average.
- The term “raft” refers to a gathering of sea otters for the purpose of relaxing.
- It is common knowledge that sea otters may encase themselves and their young in kelp in order to prevent them from being carried out to sea.
- Because they are so buoyant when they are first born, newborn sea otter pups are unable to instantly dive for food.
Around the two-month mark, puppies start to swim and hunt for food. It takes the mothers of sea otters around six months of nursing and caring for their young before they begin weaning them. In most cases, a single pup is born to the mother of a sea otter.
- The gestational period lasts for a total of 6 months, comprised of 2 months of delayed implantation and 4 months of pregnancy.
- When is the best time to throw up? Nope.
- Puppies are born at all times of the year.
- Have you ever seen an otter with a scar on its snout or one that was bleeding? This occurs when a male sea otter will bite the snout of a female in order to maintain his grip on her while they are mating.
Because they lack blubber, sea otters must regularly groom themselves in order to keep the insulating and water-repellent characteristics of their fur in good condition. To ensure its survival, an otter must devour prey equal to 25 percent of its bodyweight on a daily basis (for a child weighing 75 pounds, this equates to 75 1/4-pound burgers).
- Each day, sea otters will forage for food for around nine to twelve hours.
- Over 4,000 calories are consumed by an adult male California sea otter every single day on average.
- Otters of the sea feed on a wide variety of invertebrates, such as sea urchins, abalone, clams, crabs, snails, sea stars, squid, and octopuses.
Sea otters also consume sea stars. One of the rare creatures that may be said to utilize tools is the sea otter. Sea otters will swim to the top to feed once they have finished foraging on the ocean floor. A sea otter will frequently use a rock to break open its food while it is floating on its back and utilizing its breast as a table.
- This is especially the case when the meal consists of a crab, clam, or mussel.
- Rock and Dungeness crabs are the most typical kind of food consumed by California sea otters.
- Southern sea otters, which are located in California, do not consume fish like their northern counterparts, which are found in Alaska.
The typical length of a dive made by a California sea otter is around one minute. The record for the longest dive ever recorded was slightly less than 8 minutes. The depth at which California sea otters typically dive is around 6 meters (20 ft). Deepest dive recorded is 264 feet.
- In murky waters, sea otters rely heavily on their sense of touch (provided by their whiskers and forepaws) in order to detect their meal.
- Under their forearms, sea otters have pouches made of loose skin that they may use to store more prey when they go diving.
- Sea otters get their diet of sea urchins and other invertebrates from the enormous kelp they graze on.
If there are no sea otters, there are no kelp forests. Otters of the sea are just as busy during the day as they are at night. Bites by white sharks are currently the most common cause of death for sea otters in the state of California. A significant portion of the death toll in southern sea otters is attributable to infectious illnesses, the majority of which are known to have been caused by human activity.
Do sea otters eat sharks?
A recent sighting of a sea otter emerging from the water while holding a large shark in its mouth left observers dumbfounded. However, what occurred after that is not entirely known. According to Michael D. Harris of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the photographs that are included here represent the first documented instance of a southern sea otter successfully capturing a horn shark.
The photographs were taken on Tuesday by Don Henderson and Alice Cahill inside of California’s Morro Bay. According to Harris, a sea otter researcher, “to my knowledge (and a bunch of colleagues), this is the first reported horn shark capture by a sea otter.” Harris made this statement to For The Win Outdoors.
“There have been previous instances of sea otters taking skates and rays, but this is the first case of a shark being taken by sea otters. Although sea otters do consume fish occasionally, this behavior is extremely uncommon in the state of California.” Invertebrates including urchins, crabs, abalone, and clams make up the majority of the diet of southern sea otters that live off the coast of Central California.
- Fish, which might include sharks, make up the majority of the diet of northern sea otters, which can be found from Washington to Alaska.
- ADDITIONALLY ON FTW OUTDOORS: Visitors to Yellowstone National Park react to a pack of wolves attacking a grizzly bear The non-profit organization Sea Otter Savvy disseminated the photographs through various social media platforms on Saturday.
The organization that is committed to the protection of sea otters stated on its Facebook page that “if you observe sea otters long enough you will witness a decent sampling of bottom-dwelling marine species come to the surface due of hunger or curiosity.” “We are not sure which of these two scenarios actually occurred, but these “jaw-dropping” photographs are the first known record of a “foraging-like” interaction between a sea otter and this organism,” the researchers said.
The followers were given the challenge of identifying the particular species of shark. Horn sharks are lone predators that hide during the daytime hours. During the night, they go out in search of mollusks and crustaceans, which they use their powerful jaws and teeth that resemble molars to smash. Due to the fact that both creatures were only seen for a brief period of time, it is unclear whether or not the otter was attempting to hunt the horn shark.
Sea Otter 101 | How Much Food Do Sea Otters Eat?
On the other hand, sea otters are capable of feeding themselves on land by using their chests as trays. Followers on social media also questioned if it was a playful, maternal, inquisitive, or defensive action on the animal’s part. In light of the fact that the shark was rather large, Sea Otter Savvy noted on Twitter that “Not unexpectedly, while some nibbling may have happened, the prey was not devoured.” Harris, who had been called to the site but had not been there for the observation, was unable to give an answer.
- He stated that it was unfortunate that they did not know the outcome.
- “Was this a hunting or fishing trip? Did the otter succeed in eating the shark, or did it make an unsuccessful attempt? What was the motivation for this activity of the sea otter if it wasn’t related to foraging?” Harris stated that after analyzing the photographs, he is “quite positive” that the otter in the pictures is an adult female.
On Twitter, one user made a joke about the photographs by saying, “They are star-crossed lovers, and no reality can tell me otherwise.” This individual was alluding to the face-to-face hug seen in the photos. –Don Henderson (for the top two) and Alice Cahill kindly provided these images.
Do otters eat dead fish?
Do Otters Eat the Whole Fish? Occasionally, they will remove bits from more than one fish, which will result in a lot of fish being killed. Otters do not eat the entire fish. However, after they have finished eating, they will no longer continue.
Do otters eat turtles?
River otters consume a wide range of aquatic species, including fish, crayfish, crabs, frogs, birds’ eggs, birds, and reptiles such as turtles as part of their diet. River otters also eat reptiles such as snakes. In addition to eating aquatic vegetation, they are also known to hunt and kill other small animals, like as muskrats and rabbits, for food.
Are sea otters friendly?
According to Nicole Duplaix, who leads the Otter Specialist Group for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, otters are recognized for being sociable animals; nevertheless, like the majority of other wildlife, they maintain a safe distance from humans.
Do orcas eat sea otters?
As they observed numerous assaults, they started to question why an orca that weighed 10 tons would spend its energy on a sea otter that weighed 65 pounds. According to Williams, the answer ended up being a straightforward one. Orcas switched to feeding on otters after the extremely large whales that they had previously subsisted on became practically extinct due to the activities of commercial whalers in the 1950s.
Can otters eat cat food?
Taking Care of an Otter Having an otter as a pet is a significant commitment. If you have taken one in as a pet, you are responsible for providing it with an appropriate environment. They require a substantial amount of care and room. The enclosure that an otter lives in needs to be roomy enough for it to allow the animal to move about and search for food.
- They require a kennel that is far larger than that of an ordinary dog.
- Your otter will most likely reside in the enclosure for the most of its life.
- Otters can only survive in warm, humid environments.
- The temperature should be between 75 and 85 degrees there.
- They will also require a place to dry off in addition to the pool.
It is possible for them to acquire health issues if they are consistently damp. Because otters enjoy climbing and digging, their habitat has to have a top and should also be excavated into the ground. The great outdoors makes for the ideal habitat for an otter.
Living indoors has a number of obstacles, some of which include cleaning up otter poo and preserving the integrity of your furnishings. Otters have a reputation for being disruptive and are notoriously tough to housebreak. The diet of an otter may be somewhat variable. You can provide them with a complete cat food as the foundation of their diet, but you should make sure that meat accounts for more than half of what they consume.
Fish should definitely be included. Include vegetables, eggs poached in water, and insects in their diet as dietary supplements.
Do otters eat fish heads?
The otter must consume food equal to twenty percent of its body weight on a daily basis, which is equivalent to around 2.5 kilograms. This allows it to take on greater prey than the mink. Otters will often consume the fish’s head before moving on to the body of the fish, leaving the tail behind the majority of the time.
Are sea otters aggressive?
Habituation to People Is Possible After Repeated Disturbances Sea otters, like practically any other species that is exposed to frequent human disturbances, are able to get used to the presence of humans. A lack of fear of humans, greater boldness, and in some cases hostility against humans and pets are all side effects of becoming used to humans.
- It’s possible that sea otters that are used to humans may want to engage with them by getting into kayaks.
- In situations like this, people and sea otters are both at risk, hence every effort should be taken to avoid any kind of physical connection between the two species ( see Avoiding direct interactions between sea otters, humans and pets ).
Dogs and sea otters should never be permitted to interact with one another under any circumstances. A dog has the potential to bother or damage a sea otter, while a sea otter that has been used to humans has the ability to quickly kill a dog, whether out of “play” or out of animosity.
What does sea urchin eat?
The underside of a sea urchin that is purple. Adapted from the book “The Intertidal Zone.” Thanks to the National Film Board of Canada and Bullfrog Films for providing this footage. – A structure known as Aristotle’s lantern is utilized in the feeding process by sea urchins.
It resembles a beak and is constructed up of five rigid pieces that fit together. They remove algae off rocks by scraping them with their mouth, which is shaped like a beak. This scraping can wear down the plates, therefore in order to replace the ones that have been worn down, sea urchins produce new teeth.
Their mouth is situated on the bottom of their body, and the anus, which is found at the top of the animal, is where they expel any wastes that they produce. Urchins of the sea tend to concentrate in seas that are farther out to sea and cooler, although they will occasionally venture into waters that are shallower in search of food.
- The New England green sea urchin is most commonly discovered in tidal pools and areas that are submerged during low tide.
- They also have a natural aversion to bright light.
- The size of their testing can reach up to three or four inches in length.
- Urchins in the ocean will consume nearly everything that comes their way.
Its pointed teeth are able to scrape algae off of rocks, as well as grind up plankton, kelp, periwinkles, and even barnacles and mussels on occasion. A wide variety of animals, including birds, sea stars, fish, lobsters, and foxes, hunt sea urchins for food.
How much do sea otters eat a day?
Dietary Needs of Sea Otters and Their Hunting Methods Sea otters have an unique diet in the sense that they need to consume a significant amount of food in comparison to the size of their bodies. They have a greater metabolic rate than the majority of other animals, which indicates that they make energy by expending calories at a more rapid pace.
Daily food consumption for an adult sea otter can reach up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds). Otters of the sea have a broad diet that includes things like crabs, clams, mussels, sea urchins, fish, and even a few small octopuses. They are able to readily crack open shells and catch fish that are slippery because to the retractable claws that are located on their forefeet.
Sea otters are able to dive to depths of 100-200 feet (30-60m) and may remain immersed for about 10 minutes at a time, in contrast to river otters, which are only capable of diving to depths of 50-60 feet (15-18m). Otters of the sea normally seek for food by diving between 40 and 80 feet (12-24 meters) deep and utilizing their powerful hind paws, which are webbed, to push themselves through the water.
They are able to sense movement and changes in the water currents because to the sensitive whiskers on their bodies. When a sea otter locates its meal, it immediately seizes it with its dexterous front paws and holds on for dear life. It has been noticed that sea otters, which are clever creatures, use rocks to extract molluscs off bigger rocks.
Sea otters use rocks to do this. They also utilize pebbles to split open their prey, which can include crabs and mussels. They have an unusual method in which they place their meal on their stomach and then hit it with a rock to break it up. Puppies see their moms carry out this behavior, and until they are weaned and ready to hunt on their own, they will practice with shells that have been cleaned out.
- Female sea otters do not attain sexual maturity until the age of 4, while male sea otters do not begin actively reproducing until at least the age of 6 years old.
- However, when taking into account the fact that they are part of such a diverse environment, sea otters do not live as long as one might expect for such a little creature.
A wild sea otter may expect to live between 12 and 15 years on average. Adults are able to mate at any time of the year because there is no established breeding season for this species. It is believed by specialists that female sea otters undergo delayed implantation, which enables the pups to be born during a more secure time of the year when the weather is milder and food is more likely to be accessible.
- The duration of pregnancy ranges anywhere from six to nine months, depending on the subspecies.
- When the puppies are born, they already have a coat of dense hair covering them from head to toe.
- When the mother is carrying her young, she will float on her back while supporting them on her tummy.
- She will frequently leave her pups on the surface of the water covered in kelp while she goes off to hunt in order to keep them from escaping into the open sea.
The majority of puppies stop drinking their mother’s milk by the age of 8 months, yet they continue to stay close to their moms after weaning. Because they are gregarious creatures, sea otters are frequently observed traveling in small groups known as rafts.
Do sea otters use tools to get their food?
Influences on the Natural Environment – The metabolic rate of sea otters is two to three times as fast as that of other animals of the same size. This means that sea otters require a lot more energy than other mammals. Each day, sea otters consume around 20-30% of their body weight in food.
Otters range from 35 to 90 pounds in weight (males weigh more than females). Therefore, a 50-pound otter has to consume around 10-15 pounds of food on a daily basis. The diet of a sea otter can have repercussions for the health of the entire environment in which it lives. Researchers have discovered that sea otters play an essential part in maintaining the ecosystem and the marine life that lives in kelp forests.
Sea urchins have the ability to graze on kelp and consume their holdfasts, which can result in the removal of kelp from an area that was previously covered in kelp. However, if there are many of sea otters, they will eat plenty of sea urchins, which will keep the number of urchins in check and allow the kelp to thrive.
- As a result of this, sea otter pups and a wide range of other aquatic creatures, including fish, are provided with a safe place to live.
- This makes it possible for other creatures, both marine and terrestrial, to have access to large quantities of prey.
- Sources: Estes, J.A.
- , Smith, N.S.
- , and J.F.
The role of sea otters as predators and the importance of community structure in the Western Aleutian Islands of Alaska Ecology 59(4):822-833. Johnson, C.K., Tinker, M.T., Estes, J.A., Conrad, P.A., Staedler, M., Miller, M.A., Jessup, D.A., and Mazet, J.A.K.
- are the authors of the study.
- Jessup, D.A., and Mazet, J.A.K.
- are also co-authors.2009.
- In a resource-constrained coastal ecosystem, the choice of prey and the usage of habitat are the primary drivers of pathogen exposure in sea otters.
- In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, volume 106, number 7, pages 2242-2247 Laustsen, Paul.2008.
The decline of sea otters in Alaska has an impact on the health of kelp forests and the diet of eagles. Newsome, S.D., M.T. Tinker, D.H. Monson, O.T. Oftedal, K. Ralls, M. Staedler, M.L. Fogel, and J.A. Estes. USGS. Newsome, S.D., et al.2009; Ecology 90: 961-974.
Is a sea otter a diurnal animal?
Diet and Nutrition Sea otters are carnivorous (piscivorous) creatures, meaning that they consume nearly any fish or marine invertebrate that they may find in the kelp forest where they forage for food. They consume things like sea urchins, sea stars, limpets, purple-hinged rock scallops, and chitons.
Do sea otters eat clams?
Diet Due to the high amount of energy that is required for sea otter metabolism, sea otters must ingest at least twenty percent of their body weight every day. Their high rate of energy expenditure is mostly attributable to two activities: swimming on the water’s surface and foraging.
- This is because swimming on the water’s surface causes drag, and foraging causes thermal heat loss from the body during deep dives.
- The muscles of sea otters have been uniquely developed to create heat even when the animals are not actively moving.
- Over one hundred different kinds of prey are eaten by sea otters.
The diet of the sea otter is composed almost entirely of marine benthic invertebrates, such as sea urchins, fat innkeeper worms, a variety of bivalves including clams and mussels, abalone, and other mollusks, crustaceans, and snails. In the majority of its range, the sea otter lives in colder waters.
It has been known to consume food as little as limpets and crabs as well as as large as octopuses. Sea otters have a tendency to choose larger prey items over smaller ones of the same type when there is a variety of sizes available among their potential meals, such as sea urchins, clams, and abalone.
In the state of California, it has been observed that they do not bother Pismo clams with a width of less than 76 millimeters (three inches). Fish is a common food source in several regions in the north. Studies that were conducted in the 1960s on Amchitka Island, where the sea otter population was at its carrying capacity, indicated that fish made up fifty percent of the food that was found in sea otter stomachs.
- The fish species were often bottom-dwelling and sedentary or slow forms, such as the family Tetraodontidae and the species Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus.
- On the other hand, fish do not play a significant or even a very modest role in the diet of sea otters that live south of Alaska along the coast of North America.
In contrast to what is commonly portrayed, sea otters do not regularly ingest starfish, and it appears that any kelp that is taken by a sea otter goes through its digestive tract undigested. When it comes to their hunting strategies and the kinds of prey they pursue, the individuals that live in a given region frequently diverge from one another, while their young typically imitate the routines of their moms.
- The diet of local populations also shifts over time because sea otters can significantly reduce populations of highly preferred prey like large sea urchins, and the availability of prey is also affected by other factors like fishing by humans.
- Sea otters can also significantly deplete populations of highly preferred prey like large sea urchins.
Sea otters are capable of fully removing abalone from an area, with the exception of individuals that are found in deep rock crevices. Despite this, sea otters would never eradicate an entire prey species from an area. A research that was conducted in California in 2007 found that in regions where food was relatively limited, people eat a larger range of prey.