Sea otter

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Sea otter
Wrapped around kelp in Morro Bay, California.
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Enhydra
Binomial name
Enhydra lutris
(Linnaeus, 1758)

Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are marine mammals. They live along the Pacific coast of North America. Their historic range included shallow waters of the Bering Strait. It also included Kamchatka, and as far south as Japan.

Sea otters have about 26,000 to 165,000 hairs per square centimeters of skin.[1] They have a rich fur for which humans hunted them almost to extinction. By the time the 1911 Fur Seal Treaty gave them protection, so few sea otters remained that the fur trade had become unprofitable. Sea otters eat shellfish and other invertebrates (especially clams, abalone, and sea urchins).[2]

The otters usually carry a favourite rock in their paws or in a pouch under their forearm. They use it to smash shells open. This makes them one of the few animals that use tools. They grow to 1.0 to 1.5 m (3.3 to 4.9 ft) in length and weigh 30 kg (66 lb). Although once near extinction, they have begun to spread again, from small populations in California and Alaska. Sea otters are one of the smallest mammals in the ocean.[3]

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