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News Update

Put Your Sea Otter Knowledge to the Test

September 15, 2021
  • Species conservation

You already know southern sea otters are cute and charismatic, but how well do you know this threatened species? Put your knowledge to the test. Click “Show More” to reveal the answer! 

sea otter in the water
photo © Brian Simuro

How many hairs per square inch does a southern sea otter have? 

With nearly one million hairs per square inch, southern sea otters have the densest fur of all mammals. 

But why do sea otters need so much fur? You see, they don’t have a thick layer of blubber, which means they need some other adaptation to keep them warm in the chilly ocean. In fact, sea otters have two layers of hair that trap air and keep their skin dry. But if exposed to oil, their fur loses its insulating qualities. 

You can help the next otter in need when you adopt a past patient.  

About how many individuals are in the southern sea otter population today?

Today there are about 3,000 southern sea otters living along the California coast, ranging from San Mateo to Santa Barbara counties. 

After being hunted to the brink of extinction for their luxurious fur, southern sea otters are slowly recovering, and the population is listed as a threatened species.  

Did you know that sea otters are guardians for human health? You see, when they are impacted by conditions like domoic acid poisoning from contaminated shellfish, our experts alert the public health department so they can better target surveillance and protect human health. 

See how you can help critical conservation efforts. 

sea otter patient Langly in a rehabilitation pool
photo by Bill Hunnewell © The Marine Mammal Center / USFWS permit MA101713-1
sea otter mother and pup
photo © Brian Simuro

At what age do sea otter pups learn to swim? 

Sea otter pups start learning to swim at around four weeks old

Before learning this crucial survival skill, newborn sea otters weigh three to five pounds and are extremely buoyant. In fact, a sea otter pup’s fur traps so much air that it cannot dive underwater!  

Mothers spend much of their time grooming their pups and are often observed carrying them on their chest. After about eight months alongside their mothers, pups are weaned and on their own. 

You can help the next otter in need when you adopt a past patient.   

Yes, I want to save a life!

Yes, I want to save a life!

You’ll be giving sick and injured animals the best possible care at the Center’s state-of-the-art hospital. With your gift today, you are giving a patient a second chance at life in the wild.

  • $35 You'll buy food for a hungry animal
  • $45 You'll provide life-saving medical care
  • $65 You'll make second chances possible

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Southern Sea Otter