Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) grooming its fur in Kachemak Bay, Alaska, USA. Photo by Hal Brindley

Daily Creature 50: Sea Otter

Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) grooming its fur in Kachemak Bay, Alaska, USA. Photo by Hal BrindleySea Otter

(Enhydra lutris)

The Sea Otter is the smallest of all the marine mammals. Unlike most marine mammals it doesn’t have a layer of fat (blubber) to insulate itself in cold ocean waters. Instead it relies on its remarkable fur. A Sea Otter’s fur has about 100,000 hairs in each square centimeter! This is denser than any other fur on the planet. Compare this to humans which only have upwards of 200 hairs per square centimeter on our heads. (That’s 500 times more hairs!)

As a result, Sea Otters spend more time grooming their fur than any other mammal. The otter in the photo above is doing just that, rolling the fur between its paws and trapping air inside for insulation.

Those big flippers you see are the back feet! Photo taken in Kachemak Bay, Alaska. USA.

You can read more about my encounters with sea otters in California in my photo story: Holding Breath: Marine Mammals of the Pacific Coast.

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