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Enhydra lutris nereis
As pictured, this female is estimated at about 45 pounds in weight, and between 3 1/2 to 4 feet long. She is pictured with her smaller pup. She has a thick fur coat tan to brown in color. Sea Otter fur is denser than almost any animal, with an estimated 1 million hairs per square inch.
This pair was spotted in Monterey Bay, California. The ocean in this area is thick with kelp, as noted in the photos. Sea otters are critical in maintaining an ecological balance in kelp forests, as they eat sea urchins that if unchecked would destroy the kelp.
This posting has a personal element to which we all can identify. In the first photo, mom was diving and had just snagged the "catch of the day"...a crab. The second and third photos show mom sharing dinner with her pup. The last photo is my favorite…the pup is full, happy and asleep on mom’s tummy. Life is good! There is some cautionary good news on California Sea Otters. US Fish and Wildlife has this species currently listed as ENDANGERED. The 2017 census conducted in April found a population of 3,186 otters, which was down from the previous year’s count by 86. However, this is the second consecutive year in which the population exceeded 3,090, which is the minimum population required to maintain and increase otter numbers. The Sea Otter Recovery Plan holds that 3 years of population count above the minimum 3,090 would allow USF&W to consider delisting this population as Endangered. Cross your fingers…I would like to see many more moms and pups enjoying life!