Monday, June 8, 2009

Differences between sea otters and river otters

Sometimes well-meaning folks send me pictures of Sea Otters. OK, it was only once, but I just wanted to clear up any misconceptions. Below are sea otters. Yes, sea otters do "hold hands" in the water- they hang out that way, in groups called rafts. A raft of otters!funny pictures of cats with captions
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Sea otters are a completely different species than Northern River Otters.

They live in the ocean (as opposed to rivers and other fresh water). They are simply not as cute. Although, if I were by the ocean, it would be pretty cool to see them, I am just not as enamored. De gustibus non est disputandem, I guess.

Sea otters are almost completely water-dwelling creatures. They rarely, if ever, venture onto land, where they are clumsy- in fact, they even sleep in the water. Their hind flippers simply don't allow for much agility out of water. Sea otters float on their backs, mostly, and are one of the few species besides Homo Sapiens that use tools- they place mussels on their bellies, and use rocks to crack the shells open. River otters don't do this; instead, they swim in a more typical fashion (belly down) and are just about as comfortable romping on land as they are in the water.

For more information on sea otters, here is a fact sheet from the Vancouver Aquarium.

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