Otters interesting facts

Due to the amazing video I’ve seen these days, with the 2 otters holding hands I’ve done some research and came up with the following:

The Sea Otter has been a significant part of Alaska’s history since Vitus Bering’s first voyage of discovery to Alaska in 1742. When Bering returned to Russia, he brought back and reported on the rich furs of the sea otter which began a huge and profitable fur trade to primarily the Chinese. The Russians recognized that the harvesting of the sea otter in such great numbers would eventually decimate the animals and had began instilling protective laws for the sea otter. It’s argued that the depletion of the sea otter in the mid-nineteenth century may have led to Russia’s sale of Alaska in 1867. Once the US purchased Alaska, the early attempt by the Russians to protect the otters were dropped, and the sea otter was almost driven to extinction. In 1911 an international treaty was made against harvesting of the sea otter. In 1972, the Marine Mammal Protection Act transferred management authority to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Recovery of the Alaska sea otter population has been dramatic. Perhaps as few as 2,000 total animals existed in 1911, but by the mid-1970s the Alaska population numbered between 110,000 and 160,000. Today, the sea otter is considered fully recovered.

What led to the popularity of the sea otter is its rich, luxurious fur which consists of a dense underfur of inch long fibers and a second lay of protective “guard hairs.” The guard hairs can vary in color from brown to a silver-like color. Older sea otters tend to have white whiskers and the “silver” guard hairs increase on the head. This appearance has caused the sea otter to be given the nickname of “Old Man of the Sea.” The sea otter also produces body oil that during grooming, the otter spread over his fur and provides “waterproofing.”

Sea otters give birth to only one pup at a time. Sea otters do not migrate unless food becomes scarce. Female and males often will congregate in separate gender groups. Eagles will occasionally prey upon the pups and Orca whales have been known to take adult otters, but the sea otters’ predators are limited. However, as in times past, human impact is perhaps the most significant threat. The Exxon Valdez oil spill dramatically demonstrated the effects of oil contamination on sea otters. More than 1,000 carcasses were found after the spill, and it is likely that the total number that died was several times greater. Thus, while sea otters are flourishing in Alaska’s waters, it is clear that they are susceptible to human activities.

Source: Alaska Stock

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