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Wisdom Wednesday 07/22/20

Shore Buddies Wisdom Wednesday

Image of sea otters from Instagram user @jillma2sh21

Image by Instagram user @jillma2sh21

Sea otters have the densest fur in the animal kingdom, with up to one million hairs per square inch of their body! Since they don’t have a layer of blubber to keep them warm like most of their marine mammal cousins, these thick coats actually have the ability to trap air, forming a layer of cozy insulation to keep them otterly comfy. Sea otters need to constantly fuel their little bodies to keep up with their constant energy output, and typically eat around a quarter of their weight in food on a daily basis. Humans generally eat between three and four pounds of food each day. If you weigh 140 pounds, that’d be like you eating around 34 pounds of food every day. 34 pounds is equal to somewhere around 74 of the average six-inch subs from Subway. Sea otters can dive up to 330 feet underwater while foraging for food. Because such a feat can be pretty stressful on the sinus cavity, a sea otter’s anatomy allows for it to actually close its ears and nostrils while underwater, making for a much smoother dive. Sea otters sleep on their backs and when it comes to living in tidal areas where it’s easy to float away from the rest of a group, these genius cousins of the weasel came up with a solution. They gather into groups and hold paws with one another to keep from drifting away, with mothers often holding babies on their stomachs for safekeeping. sea otters are also considered a ‘keystone species,’ meaning their role and impact on the environment is valued greater than others. Without sea otters, many of their prey—such as sea urchins—would devour the kelp forests that help keep carbon dioxide levels in these ecosystems at healthy low levels. Indirectly, sea otters play a crucial role in keeping these greenhouses gases from harming atmospheric conditions in coastal ecosystems.