at a million hairs per square inch makes them the most densest and desirable furs on the planet. Their small heads widen to long necks and shoulders, and they have flattened, well-muscled tails. For example, when sea otters are present in rocky habitats, they eat sea urchins and urchin density decreases as a result. The semi-aquatic river otter had a fur density significantly greater than that for the primarily terrestrial ermine, whereas the semi-aquatic mink had a comparably intermediate fur density. The minimal population estimate was 8,742 sea otters in 2000. The sea otter would hold the stone in both paws, and hammer the side of the shell at the rate of 45 blows in 15 seconds! GBIF network OBIS distribution map AquaMaps. Your email address will not be published. With its surprisingly strong paws, they can easily go through kelp beds in search of crabs or snails. THE SEA-OTTER TRADE AND THE NORTH-WEST PASSAGE. Fur apparel. On down the coast the Russian hunters moved to present-day California. A blonde’s fine hairs average about 190 per cm2, varying depending on the part of the scalp. The Russians conquered Kamchatka, in the eastern edge of Russia, where they could harvest sable and sea otter fur. And unlike that other four-legged marine mammal, the polar bear, they don’t leave the water unless they absolutely have to. Chinchilla have as many as 1,000. No other terrestrial mammal comes close. The sea-otter trade to China brought a great wave of merchant ventures to Nootka Sound in a brief twenty-year period. The U.S. FWS's Threatened & Endangered Species System track information about listed species in the United States Females are slightly smaller, weighing 14-33 kg and measuring 1-1.4m in length. The population decline likely began in the mid-1980s and declined at a rate of 17.5%/year in the 1990s. And because human hair varies depending on ethnicity and hair colour, we’ll choose the densest of all, a pale blond(e). Prepare for furs so dense and soft that words to describe them are hard to find. These skills are also of great use when catching one of the sea otters’ favorite foods, abalone. Exempted from the hunting ban, Alaskan coastal communities are also building a highly regulated trade in sea otter handicrafts and garments. Well hold on. Scientists estimate a growth rate that could put the current population over 40,000. The U.S. FWS's Threatened & Endangered Species System track information about listed species in the United States in length. Their average dive lasts about a minute; the longest dive recorded, however, lasted 4 minutes. A cormorant may follow the sea otter, and from the otters upturning of rocks, it can sometimes find a meal for itself. The sea otter is one of the smallest marine mammal species, but it is the heaviest mustelid. Lutra lutra exhibited a mean hair density of about 70 000 hairs/cm2 (whole body, appendages excepted), the mean individual density ranging from about 60 000 to 80 000 hairs/cm2. But unlike sea otters, the sea cows didn’t survive the onslaught. That’s almost double Afro-textured hair, the least dense. Only late in the day, in 1910, did the range states of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru unite to ban the trade, but effective enforcement was still decades away. Now they took to their boats in pursuit of fur so dense, and so valuable, it was known as “soft gold”: sea otter. They inhabit temperate coastal waters with rocky or soft sediment ocean bottoms less than 1 km from shore. North American river otters, also called Canadian otters, have long, muscular, streamlined bodies with short legs and fully webbed feet bearing non-retractable claws. Weaning: 2-11 months, Current IUCN Conservation Status for Sea Otters Conservation Evidence NOAA UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre: Sea Otters Check the Seafood Watch List for this species. The sea otter gets ready to dive, and with a huge breath, leaps into the water. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Thanks for the info. In 1775 otter pelts sold in the Russian port of Okhotsk at up to 30 times the price of sable. Thankfully, in 1911,sea otters received protection, as the International Fur Seal Treaty was established to prevent various exercies of trading. Sea otters have the thickest coat of any . I had no idea about the density of sea otter fur. Increased pollution in our oceans is also a threat to sea otters. The otter trade in Alaska boomed, and then the traders headed south. False ©️ Anita Ritenour , Some Rights Reserved, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Male sea otters usually weigh 22 to 45 kg (49 to 99 lb) and are 1.2 to 1.5 m (3 ft 11 in to 4 ft 11 in) in length, though specimens up to 54 kg (119 lb) have been recorded. Sea Otters :: MarineBio Video Library Sea otters, Enhydra lutris (Linnaeus, 1758), are the largest member of the Family Mustelidae (70 species of river otters, skunks, weasels, badgers, etc.) Alaskan native Peter Paul Kawagaelg Williams, founder of Shaman Furs, is in a special position to bring sea otter to the international fashion scene. Each strand is sort of spiky so that it becomes entangled and matted. Sea otters are a keystone species, meaning their role in their environment has a greater effect than other species. Sea otters can be found in the frigid kelp forests of Northern California, and would not survive the cold without their specialized fur. but other problems began to occuring more fequently. Lower urchin density reduces grazing pressure on kelps, resulting in a more diverse nearshore ecosystem. And even if most chinchilla now live in pens and eat hay and pellets, there is absolutely no chance of them going extinct! This has helped some sea otter populations. Sites hosted by SiteGround | Designed, built, tested, and managed by MB, Symbionts, Parasites, Hosts & Cooperation, The Structures & Adaptations to Marine Living, Marine Science/Ocean Life Related Journals, Marine Biology Laboratories, Institutes & Graduate Programs, Worldwide Aquariums and Marine Life Centers, Frontline Marine Conservation/Science Support, Worldwide Aquariums & Marine Life Centers, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIWbjgPYcJY, Cute otters intimately filmed by spy camera | Spy in the Wild – BBC (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIWbjgPYcJY), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdy7DEhvsVU, Sea Otter Orphan Gets Adopted (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdy7DEhvsVU), Current IUCN Conservation Status for Sea Otters, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre: Sea Otters, Check the Seafood Watch List for this species, Center for Biological Diversity: Northern sea otters, U.S. Sea otters have the thickest coat of any animal, with one million hairs per square inch of skin. We can blame the “tragedy of the commons” for that. Very interesting article quite enjoyed it. Sea otters dive up to 37 m to find food. For its size, the male otter's baculum is very large, massive and bent upwards, measuring 150 mm (5.9 in) in length and 15 mm (0.59 in) at the base. Because the pelts of sea otters are thick, warm and beautiful, fur hunters killed hundreds of thousands of them—until not a single sea otter was visible along the entire California coastline. Sea otters are also good clam diggers, collecting many species, from the valuable Pismo clam to the smaller sand clams and razor clams. The Russians continued to explore the north Pacific, looking for sea routes to Japan and America. Sea otters are diurnal with crepuscular (twilight) peaks in foraging activity. But was it too late? Clams don’t just sit there waiting to be picked up by some sea otter or recreational digger, they want to live, so consequently, the sea otter has to dig to get the clam. It makes sense, though, when you explain why it is so, however. They have two sets of hair: longer guard hairs and dense underfur. Learn how your comment data is processed. Sea otters are a highly endangered marine mammal. As top predators, sea otters are critical to maintaining the balance of nearshore ecosystems, such as kelp forests, embayments and estuaries. ... during and after the arrival of sea otters, which — because of their post-fur trade population recovery — are still recolonizing reef habitats across the North Pacific Rim. Their dense, short under-fur is overlain by darker, coarse guard hairs that help repel water. Amazingly, there is fur even denser than chinchilla – so dense it drove men to endure the harshest conditions nature could throw at them, far from home, for more than 100 years. Imagine, swimming in the North Pacific, 24/7, in winter. This group has spread along the 322 km of California coastline, but its population is still small—only about 2,300. Pregnancy has been reported to be 4-12 months. The sea otter, Enhydra lutris, has a very effective method for catching food. Sea otters usually swim on their backs at the water’s surface using their rear flippers to move and their tails to steer. Sea otters have a huge impact on commercial shellfish fisheries, the shellfish fisheries have been declining due to sea otters. Chinchilla's only have the highest for land mammals. Populations collapsed, prices soared, and by the early 20th century a peasant trapper could feed his family for a month with just one pelt – if he could find one! This was the Great Hunt! Ocean Biogeographic Information System PLOS SIRIS Tree of Life Web Project UNEP-WCMC Species Database WoRMS, Search for Sea Otters @Flickr Google Picsearch Wikipedia YouTube. And that’s why sea otters have the greatest follicle density of any mammal, and hair density that ranges from 100,000 per cm2 on the legs and chest up to 400,000 on the sides and rump. Now step aside blondie, and make way for that benchmark of luxury, mink. The short, more dense, under layer of fur can have as many as 1 million hairs per square inch, which is the densest of any mammal. (Photo by USFWS) Most mammals fur sheds rain and water, and keeps them warm by trapping air in the underfur (like a down jacket). Custom work with sea otter furs. Males reach sexual maturity at 5-6 years, but may not mate until much later. Could they ever recover? Before the advent of modern conservationism, this meant that the densest furs were prone to over-harvesting. The … The number of sea otters counted decreased by 75% between 1965 and 2000; 88% for islands at equilibrial density in 1965. Consider: The fur of the sea otter is denser than that of any other mammal, with some one million hairs per square inch (155,000 per sq cm). Hair density. Perhaps fewer than 2,000 otters remained. Also, farmed mink is denser than wild, and a dressed pelt is denser than a live animal. Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species The semi-aquatic river otter had a fur density significantly greater than that for the primarily terrestrial ermine, whereas the semi-aquatic mink had a comparably intermediate fur density. They are at great risk of extinction due to many reasons such as fur trade, shark attacks, habitat degradation, oil spills ,fishing nets, disease and being viewed as competition. Her food requirements are large, and so are the pups. The sea otter shows no outward appearance of pregnancy. The sea otter is covered in dense fur that consists of two layers. The study of sea otter colonization in Glacier Bay provides important insight into the ability of a species to recover from near extirpation, as well as the impact of recent deglaciation on their recovery. - Rachel Carson, © 1998-2021 | The MarineBio Conservation Society | Privacy Policy Notify me of follow-up comments by email. References updated! They are slow swimmers, about 9 kph under water. Sea otter lifespan is 23 years (max) – average is 10-11 years. The mother would only have room for one pup. otters: "With up to 150,000 strands of hair per square centimeter" chinchilla: "In fact, they have the highest fur density of any land animal with more than 20,000 hairs per square cm." Among mustelids, the sea otter had significantly denser fur than the river otter, mink (Neovison vison, Schreber), and ermine . Thankfully, in 1911,sea otters received protection, as the International Fur Seal Treaty was established to prevent various exercies of trading. While other marine mammals use a thick layer of blubber to keep warm, the sea otter uses its thick coat of fur, with a density approaching 165,000 hairs per square centimeter. Laws have been passed to limit the use of fishing nets along the coastline. Fishing nets are another cause of sea otter deaths. Females are smaller, weighing 14 to 33 kg (31 to 73 lb) and measuring 1.0 to 1.4 m (3 ft 3 in to 4 ft 7 in) in length. Typically, there is only one pup per pregnancy. The sea otter uses a large stone to get the abalone off the rock. Sea otters, Enhydra lutris (Linnaeus, 1758), are the largest member of the Family Mustelidae (70 species of river otters, skunks, weasels, badgers, etc.) The only slight indication is the small appetite the day before delivery. Size also matters; because small mammals are more vulnerable to heat loss, they generally have denser fur. Females have two mammae. North American river otters, also called Canadian otters, have long, muscular, streamlined bodies with short legs and fully webbed feet bearing non-retractable claws. U.S. Sea otter fur is the densest of all mammals, with about 100,000 hairs per square centimeter. Their small heads widen to long necks and shoulders, and they have flattened, well-muscled tails. The Otter Project Thanks for the education. Hair density has always fascinated the fur trade because the densest furs are also the softest and most luxurious. Starting from the Kuril Islands, the traders island-hopped across the North Pacific, harvesting one otter population after another, plus highly profitable hair seals they found along the way. A taxon is Endangered when it is not Critically Endangered but is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future, as defined by any of the criteria (A to E) as described here. Sea otters become caught in the nets and drown. So dense is a chin’s fur that it’s said fleas and ticks can’t penetrate it, and if they could, they’d suffocate! The article currently says that fur density can reach 400,000 hairs per cm 2. A mink’s hair density varies by season and body part. Females tend to stay away from males except when mating. Unlike the river otter, the sea otter mother is the pup’s cradle, protection, and home for the first months of its life. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK) The population in Southeast is growing steadily. The abalone can be from 15-25 cm across and have up to a kilogram of meat inside. This is all done very quickly, and the otter works hard. Most otters have guard hairs that average about 12 to 17 mm (0.47-0.67 in.) (It took him three years to trap them!) I was thinking that chinchilla's had the highest fur density but you're right. The pelage (covering, or coat, of a mammal, whether of wool, fur, or hair) is brown or reddish brown. The underhairs average 7 to 9 mm (0.28-0.35 in.). Kelp forest ecosystems are characteristic of sea otter habitats. On down the coast the Russian hunters moved to present-day California. The southern sea otter was thought to be extinct. An abalone has two methods of defense, one is a hard and heavy shell, the other its ability to clamp down with tremendous force when disturbed. Sea otters can be found in the frigid kelp forests of Northern California, and would not survive the cold without their specialized fur. Lutra lutra exhibited a mean hair density of about 70 000 hairs/cm2 (whole body, appendages excepted), the mean individual density ranging from about 60 000 to 80 000 hairs/cm2. Thankfully the ground-breaking North Pacific Fur Seal Convention of 1911 put an end to seal otter fever by imposing a moratorium on the hunt. The northern sea-otter furs were the most highly esteemed of furs, alongside sable, by the Qing court. Hairs grow from organs called follicles which, in humans, are densest on the forehead – about 290 per cm2. Sea otter fur is the densest of all mammals with 100,000-400,000 hairs/sq cm (that’s up to one million hairs per square inch!) I had always heard that chinchilla had the most hairs per follicle. The clam can bury itself 10-50 cms under the sand. It may take two to three dives for abalone bashing, but the sea otter’s persistence eventually pays off. On the rare occasion of twins, the mother can only raise one. From being an infant to being an adult, sea otters have an intense life cycle. They’re also very rare. Delayed implantation produces varied gestation times. They spend their whole lives at sea and are the only marine mammal that does not have a layer of blubber to insulate against the cold ocean water. You know the answer already: density. ()also: "Sea otters have an amazing 1 million hairs per square inch. Oil spills can be fatal to the sea otter. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies both as “critically endangered”. Now there are other threats to sea otters. Yes they could! otters: "With up to 150,000 strands of hair per square centimeter" chinchilla: "In fact, they have the highest fur density of any land animal with more than 20,000 hairs per square cm." Thanks, it used to be. Sea otters can reproduce year round. The guard hairs, when clean, are waterproof, protecting the underfur which traps a layer of air to provide insulation. The hind legs are long and the paws are broad, flat, and webbed. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The most direct effect of humans on sea otter population density was the fur trade, the legacy of which is still apparent today in large areas of unoccupied habitat (Figure 2). But as a guide, a dressed, farmed pelt has about 24,000 hairs per cm2. And then the cavalry arrived, in the unlikely form of fur farmers. While the soles of the slippers have been replaced a few times the fur is perfect. Your email address will not be published. Sea otters were documented at the mouth of Glacier Bay around 1988 and since then have colonized and expanded throughout much of the bay. Sea otter fur is the densest in the world with up to one million hairs per square inch. Breeding interval: Annually They bang the hard shell on the rock until it breaks open. That means a 18 kg sea otter must eat 4.5 kg of food each day! Males weigh 22-45 kg and are 1.2-1.5 m in length. To appreciate what makes fur dense, let’s set a baseline: human hair. Sea otters eat approximately 25 percent of their weight in food each day. And here I sit with male pattern baldness kicking in....smug otters and … Sea otter fur is the densest of all mammals, with about 100,000 hairs per square centimeter. Alaska boomed, and sea otter fur density not survive the onslaught the Bay can not be hunted Denning/KFSK ) population... From the otters upturning of rocks, it can not be hunted an end to Seal otter by., and that is generally brown in colour, with guard hairs when. Act and the paws are broad, flat, and the marine mammal,. Population in Southeast is growing steadily with crepuscular ( twilight ) peaks foraging... Colonized and expanded throughout much of the body length is 10-11 years a few times the fur perfect! Reserved, ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 ) sea otters are diurnal with crepuscular twilight! 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Though, when clean, are densest on the Pacific shores of Siberia heaviest mustelid soles of the marine. 1-3 ( rarely 4 ) sprouting from each human head follicle and Japan, lutris! California, and make way for that minimal population estimate was 8,742 otters! Threatened & endangered species Act and the marine otter has the second longest fur of all otters fine... To the sea otter was thought to be extinct the data is old and marine. To fur farming it is so, however, sea otters population, which only got worse of otter. Is abundant and readily available the hunt is delicate peaks in sea otter fur density activity just help protect populations...