These pictures were taken at Moss Landing and the Elkhorn Slough, in central California, back in February of 2008. This was our second trip into the Monterrey Bay area of California and we have been fortunate to photograph sea otters on both trips, although there were a lot more of them in 2007.
Sea Otters are the largest member of the weasel family, with adults averaging 5 feet in length. They have the finest fur of any mammal, with up to about 1 million hairs per square inch. Their thick fur is needed to keep them warm as they spend most of their lives in the water, which can get very cold.
Sea otters spend most of their time floating on their backs, they eat, sleep, groom, and nurse their young while floating on their backs. Since they are social creatures they will often float together in groups, that can number over 100, which are called rafts. They are also fairly intelligent and are often seen using tools, like a rock or a bottle, to open up a hard shelled crustation.
Sea otters eat mainly sea dwelling invertebrates like clams, crabs, mussels and urchins as well as fish. Most of these are found on the ocean floor which means that the otter has to sometimes dive up to 250 feet to find its prey. Their front claws are retractable, making it easier to catch their prey. An adult will often eat 25 to 30 percent of their body weight in food each day to help them keep warm in their cold watery home.