Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Sea Otters of Monterey Bay

While visiting the beautiful city of San Francisco earlier this summer I made a side trip down the coast to Monterey. Read part one of my review of the excellent Monterey Bay Aquarium. Today, I’m going to continue my review by showcasing one of my favorite animal encounters ever, both in captivity and in the wild.

The main attractions of the Monterey Bay Aquarium are the sea otters which can be seen in captivity inside the aquarium and in the wild from the observation decks outside the aquarium. I was initially shocked at how big the sea otters are up close. I had seen river otters and Asian small clawed otters at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium but they are tiny in comparison. Here are a few facts about sea otters as well as my sea otter pictures.

Sea otters don’t rely on blubber to survive the frigid waters of the Pacific Ocean like other mammals. Instead, they have the densest fur of any animal on the planet. I’d love to feel sea otter fur. Sea otters can live their entire life without leaving the water. Did you know sea otters live in groups called rafts?

What do sea otters eat? Sea otters eat sea urchins and other mollusks and crustaceans. This includes clams, snails, sea stars, sea urchins, squid, and octopuses. How would you like to eat sea otter food? They can hold their breath for up to five minutes, allowing a long dive to the ocean floor to hunt for food. They use rocks as tools to crack open prey.

Where do sea otters live? The otters seen from the decks of the Monterey Bay Aquarium are called southern or California sea otters. Sea otters are an endangered species. One ill-timed oil spill could essentially wipe out the entire Monterey Bay sea otter population. To see the otters up close you can kayak out into the calm waters of the bay, which I would LOVE to go back and do.

Embedded below is my Monterey Bay Aquarium montage video, featuring scenes with the sea otters inside as well as out in the bay. Sorry for some of the shaky footage. Enjoy!

Read my review on the rest of the exhibits at the MontereyBay Aquarium.