Posted by: cherylyoung | March 23, 2013

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Behold these exquisite miracles of the Sea

Marine Mammals of BC: Sea Otters & River Otters

Otters are often seen along the British Columbia coast.

  

It is a little confusing, though, because the species most often

 seen in these waters is the River Otter (Lutra canadensis).

  

This species is one of the most common mammals along the

 beaches and rocky shores, but it almost always is found near a

 source of fresh water.

 

 Normally three pups are born to a female, and they may spend

 two to three months in the den on land before venturing out.

 

 Groups of River Otters almost always consist of females

and their young.
 
 
River Otters catch fish, and eat a lot of crabs and other
 
 invertebrates along the shore.
 

 They have been observed drowning a Canada Goose in shallow

water and hauling it away.

 

The single pup may be born on land or at sea, but is cared for

 at sea by the female.

The Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) is perhaps more aptly named,

 because it lives its life almost entirely at sea.

 

 They are social animals, and are often seen in large groups.

 

 Sea Otters feed mostly on sea urchins and molluscs, which

 they eat while lying on their backs on the surface, often in the

 security of a kelp forest.

 

 The Sea Otter weighs up to about 36 kilograms, with a length that

 can exceed 1.5 meters.

 

 The slimmer River Otter is only a little shorter, but reaches

 only about 14 kilograms in weight.

 

The Sea Otter has the densest fur of any mammal, with over

 100,000 hairs per square centimetre, a feat of nature that has

 lead to over hunting for their thick pelts.

 

 Sea otters inhabit the Goose Islands, off the central coast of BC,

 and the isolated areas of the northwest coast of Vancouver

Island, mainly the area of the Brooks Peninsula and adjacent

Checleset Bay Ecological Reserve, an extensive area (34,650

hectares) of marine shoreline, reefs and islets providing habitat

for BC’s  recovering Sea Otter population.

 Decimated by the fur trade in the early 1900s, and extirpated in

BC by the late 1920s, sea otters from Alaska were transplanted

to the northwest coastal waters in 1969-1972.

 

 Their numbers are growing, though, and the original

 introduction of 89 animals has grown significantly.

 

The present population on Vancouver Island is estimated

 at 2,000.

 

 Apart from the dangers of oil spills, their future once again

 seems secure.

 

The re-introduction of the sea otters has become something

 of an issue in neighbouring kyuquot Sound recently, as the

 sea otters compete with the Native Indians for crabs, abalone

and  sea urchins.

 

The unfortunate result is a decline in the sea otter numbers.

 With the elimination of the endearing whiskered critters by

greedy and thoughtless European fur traders and native hunters

 in the late 18th and early 19th century, the otters’ natural foods

 became  more abundant, decimating their own natural foods,

 predominantly kelp.

 

With the return of the sea otters to their natural habitat, the

crabs, sea urchins and abalone are now being kept in check,

with the revival of the kelp beds so important as a source of

food, shelter  and spawning grounds for so many species of

fish and other marine life.

 

This is having a positive affect on the marine life along

this coastline.

 The Natives are upset that the sea otters are depleting the

 local shellfish levels, and the sea otters…well, they just want to

continue doing what sea otters were doing for thousands of years

before Natives and Europeans arrived and laid claim to their

waters.

 business card

 

(Cheryl Young) Realtor 

SAANICH PENINSULA REALTY

 in Sidney B.C

www.cherylyoung.ca

 

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Responses

  1. Reblogged this on Cheryl Young's Blog.


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