sea otter(redirected from Sea otters)
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sea otter:see otterotter,
name for a number of aquatic, carnivorous mammals of the weasel family, found on all continents except Australia. The common river otters of Eurasia and the Americas are species of the genus Lutra. The North American river otter, L.
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(Enhydra lutris), Kamchatka beaver, a predaceous mammal of the family Mustelidae.
The cylindrical body of the sea otter is up to 1.5 m long and weighs up to 40 kg. The limbs, especially the forelegs, are short; the hind limbs look like flippers. The head is rounded with long vibrissae covering the nostrils and ears. The flat tail is about 35 cm long. The body is covered with thick, silky fur of a dark brown, sometimes almost black, color.
The sea otter was once widely distributed in the northern Pacific and along the coast of America from Alaska to California. It has now been almost wiped out by commercial hunting. In the USSR in 1920 there were a very few individuals left on Mednyi Island (Komandorskie Islands) and on the southern tip of Kamchatka (Lopatka Cape); despite conservation measures, the number grew only slowly. After 1945 the number of sea otters began to increase rapidly, and by 1970 there were approximately 1,000 on the Komandorskie and Kuril islands and the southern tip of Kamchatka. In America the number has also been increasing. The sea otter lives in the coastal zone of the ocean, near shores that have a large number of rocks above and below the water upon which the animals can rest. They move with difficulty on dry land, but in the water they are very agile, swimming and diving with ease. In the water they rest and eat their prey while lying on their backs. Their basic foods include sea urchins, mollusks, crabs, and fish. The sea otter is diurnal. Mating and the birth of offspring occur in various seasons. The gestation period is eight or nine months; usually one pup is born (rarely, two). The sea otter is a valuable fur animal; the fur is attractive, warm, and durable. In the USSR the commercial hunting of the animal is prohibited.
REFERENCESKalan. (Collection of articles.) Moscow, 1947.
Barabash-Nikiforov, I. I. Kalan: Morskaia vydra. Leningrad, 1968.
Mlekopitaiushchie Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 2, part 1. Moscow, 1967.
I. I. SOKOLOV