I’m Not Like the Otters


Nicole Kang

Otters are the cuddliest, hairiest, and most playful marine mammal on Earth. They are known for their tiny eyes and big nose, being the best cuddler and hugger in the entire animal kingdom, and for their cuteness overload. There are a total of 13 otter species around the world. Out of all of them, sea otters and river otters might be most familiar to us. Although, it is common that people don’t know the difference between the two. Other than the fact that one lives near the sea, and the other lives near the river.

River otters -mainly focusing on Northern American river otters- also known as common otters are semi aquatic mammals that mostly live in freshwater rivers, lakes, and wetlands. Although they love swimming in the water, they sleep on the surface and do not necessarily depend on water to survive; they can live anywhere as long as there’s aquadete food. Some of their favorites are fish, small turtles, eels, salamanders, frogs, crabs, and more. It is estimated that river otters can grow up to three to four feet and weigh between 11 and 30 pounds. They have a thick fur coat that keeps them warm and a long whisker that can sense prey in musky waters. They can hold their breaths in the water for about eight minutes.One interesting fact according to  Jaymi Heimbuch, the author of the article, 9 Amazing Facts About River Otters, is that these animals are called the indicators.“As apex predators that eat at the top of the food web, when pollutants enter their watershed habitat, river otters are the first to show signs of the existence of contaminants.” This means that regions with good otter populations-without any decrease- are clean and healthy.

        Unlike the river otters, sea otters mainly spend their lifetime in the water and barely come out to the shore. They eat urchins, crabs, abalone, clams, and such. They are twice as large as the river otter, measuring up to four feet and weighing 50-70 lb. They have the thickest fur out of all the animals. They groom themselves everyday to keep them warm in the water. They are known as aquatic environmentalists because by eating the sea urchins they keep the kelp forest safe and healthy. They are also very clever. According to the article, 12 Facts about Otters for Sea Otters Awareness Week, “A sea otter’s tool of choice: typically a rock that can be used as a hammer or anvil to break open hard-shelled prey.” Unlike other animals, they have very high intelligence to develop these skills. Sea otters tend to live in a group. While they are sleeping or napping they cuddle around each other and hold hands to prevent from drifting away.

Unfortunately, one thing they do have in common is that they both have been listed as endangered or near-threatened species. Oil spill, littering, pollution, habitat degradation, fur trade, fish nets, illegal trades are some man-created causes that not only harm them, but other animals as well. If we continue this, we might no longer see these unique and incredible animals. Let us not forget that it’s not just us living on Earth, these animals belong here too.