Although, their whiskers are robust and thick like their seal and sea lion counterparts, they never traded their front paws for flippers. The population of otters has been increasing ever since it was declared an endangered species and protected by the US. They place their nests on shoreline sea stacks, coastal cliffs, and islets. Sea lions and seals are now not as abundant as they once were, especially in the North Pacific, forcing the whales to turn to sea otters for food. The two are directly related in that sea otters prey on sea urchins, which in turn can help foster kelp beds because urchins feast on kelp. This has led to a decline in sea otter numbers, especially in western Alaska. During winter and fall, coyotes form packs to make their hunting more effective.eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'factsking_com-banner-1','ezslot_3',130,'0','0'])); Apart from sea otters, coyotes eat just about anything, including deer, frogs, fish, rodents, and rabbits. Because of their voracious appetite, they are occasionally accused of driving their prey species into decline by fishermen who compete for the same prey species. Consequently, the kelp forest ecosystem is gradually collapsing. Which means that, despite their fur coats, they tend to lose heat quickly, and need lots of energy to stay warm. The primary diet of sea otters consists of aquatic invertebrates including crustaceans, sea urchins, mollusks and fish. With incredibly high energy requirements, sea otters must consume approximately 25% of their bodyweight in prey each day just to stay alive. Sea otters are pretty petite compared to other marine mammals.  Sea otters are known to carry rocks when they dive, to increase their weight when diving, as well as to crack open shells and protective armor, so they can eat the meat inside the shellfish. Sea otters eat about 25% to 30% of their weight. This notwithstanding, shark bites now account for over half of sea otter deaths. However, average prey capture success rates on foraging bouts were significantly lower for subadult sea otters (63% ±5%) than for adult sea otters (82% ± 1%; P < 0.001). They burn calories at three times the rate of humans and must consume 20-30% of their body weight daily. In most of its range, the sea otter's diet consists almost exclusively of marine benthic invertebrates, including sea urchins, fat innkeeper worms, a variety of bivalves such as clams and mussels, abalone, other mollusks, crustaceans, and snails. Today, they roam the American continent’s mountains and forests.  In the Arctic, killer whales often dine on sea otters, while in the Californian coast, great white sharks consume many otters each year. Bald eagles get over 90 percent of their food from the ocean.eval(ez_write_tag([[250,250],'factsking_com-leader-1','ezslot_7',132,'0','0'])); Sea otters were once dominant in the coastal marine environments, not far from the islands. They use rocks for dislodging prey and opening shells, making them among the few mammals that use tools. a-Sea … River otters and giant otters hunt by using their vibrissae to detect movements of prey in the water. Methods of Collecting Food.  On land, coyotes and bobcats also predate on otters. This increase has seen it compete for clams with the brown bear. Although many of the bears are content with scavenging dead otters, some have, over the years, developed a taste for fresh otter meat.eval(ez_write_tag([[250,250],'factsking_com-large-mobile-banner-2','ezslot_9',134,'0','0'])); Eared seals, also referred to as otariids, are another predator of sea otters. Research has shown that sea otters are vital to the health of carbon-absorbing kelp forests. Other than sea otters, eared seals also feed on krill (an animal that closely resembles a shrimp), lobsters, crabs, crustaceans such as shrimps, and fish, among others.eval(ez_write_tag([[336,280],'factsking_com-leader-2','ezslot_10',135,'0','0'])); White shark attacks are a leading cause of death among sea otters, especially in California. If you are interested, visit the Animal Facts Page! Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Sea otters have remarkable eating and foraging habits. Prey items include sea urchins, abalone, crabs, mussels, clams, marine snails, marine worms, sea stars, and squid. Thus, the sea otter is one of the very few mammals to make an effective use of tools (t… Their favorite prey has always been sea lions and seals. Sea otters inhabit the environments near shores where they dive to the floor of the sea to forage. Whales Prey On Sea Otters October 15, 1998 / 6:05 PM / AP Killer whales that normally hunt seals and sea lions are now feeding on sea otters … They use the fur to make handicrafts. An average of 55 freshly produced empty abalone shells, equivalent to °20% of the crevice population of live abalones, were found each month in our study area over a 12—mo period. In fact, sea otters do not cause local extinction of species. These small creatures will be captured by sea otters when they dive, and brought to the surface. Sea otters are provided a varied diet while in human care. In this predator-prey relationship, where the urchin is the prey and main source of food for the sea otter, sea urchins play a large role in the population growth for the otter (Costa, 2011). PO Box 450. In environments where sea otter populations have been reintroduced, tall kelp forests are flourishing. This decline has seen sea urchins increase in number because sea otters are their main predator. According to James Estes, sea otter populations have dropped dramatically in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. They prey mostly on marine invertebrates, with sea urchins being their favorite. Common predators of sea otters include various predatory marine mammals such as orcas and sea lions. They found that the predators simply mistake otters for other more nutritious prey such as sea lions and seals.  Other predators include sea lions in certain areas, as well as eagles, which eat otter pups. If sea otter populations in these areas continue to decline, what might happen with populations of sea urchins and kelp? They have even managed to colonize cities such as Los Angeles and are found in most parts of North America. The otter is predator to fish, eels in particular, but will also eat frogs, small birds, eggs and some small mammals. Moss Landing, California 95039. ( Log Out /  As a result, the population of sea otters along the Californian coast has significantly decreased, raising concerns among conservationists. While several other consumers (e.g. Besides, they also prefer to eat crabs, large barnacles, mussels, snails, tubeworms, clams, squid, octopuses, chitons, scallops, sea cucumbers, sea stars and abalone. All in all, the sea otter preys on at least 100 different marine species. Northern sea otters, from Washington to Alaska, more commonly prey … To hunt prey, sea otters have been known to dive as deep as 320 feet; however, males mostly forage at depths of around 260 feet and females about 180 feet. Humans have changed their way of hunting otters over the years. Sea lions are another major predator of sea otters. Coyotes belong to the dog family, and once lived mainly in deserts and prairies. And Levi has helped document how sea otters have increasingly become prey for wolves around Glacier Bay National Park. But, did you know that sea otters have animals that prey on them too? Sea otters are foragers that eat mostly hard-shelled invertebrates, including sea urchins and a variety of clams, mussels, and crabs. They prey on sea urchins that feed on kelp. Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis), in recovering from near extinction, are gradually extending their range to include areas from which they have been absent for more than one hundred years. They catch prey with their teeth. Although sea otters can walk comfortably on land, they prefer to live solely in the ocean. Sea otters are such voracious eaters, West Coast crab and sea urchin fishermen have gone on record with concerns and cautions. However, with the decline in sea otter populations, bald eagles have to turn to marine fish. Many farmers and ranchers regard them as destructive pests because they kill calves, lambs, and other livestock, as well as pets.eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'factsking_com-large-leaderboard-2','ezslot_5',131,'0','0'])); Bald eagles reside in their numbers along the Aleutian archipelago off the Alaskan coast. Their diet varies according to regions and has changed significantly through time. Sea otters will eat virtually anything they can get their little paws on. Sea otters eat about 25% of their weight every day, and is arguably the number one cause in sea otter deaths, when they cannot forage enough food to feed themselves. USA ABSTRACT: Sea otters Enhydra lutris, well documented as 'keystone' predators in rocky marine of food daily. Eagles may also grab young otters if given the opportunity. Sea otters consume over 100 prey species. At our study site within their range, sea otters selected abalones larger than were proportionately available in crevices, and they broke many large shells with stone tools. Also, they prey on snakes, carrion, grass, and fruit. They have a unique foraging habit because they use rocks to kill their prey. Because they are not exposed to predators, and do not have to forage for prey, they are provided with environmental enrichment in their habitat to keep them enterta… Influence of sea otters on soft-bottom prey communities in southeast Alaska Rikk G. Kvitek, John S. Oliver Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. Sea otters and kelp forests appear to meet these conditions. Initially, they would use homemade weapons and arrows. Eared seals are recognized by their conspicuous ears and flippers. According to the Seattle Aquarium, sea otters consume around 25 percent of their body weight in food every day to … To meet it’s high energetic and thermoregulation demands, a sea otter’s metabolic rate is 2 to 3 times that of comparatively sized mammals. Part of sea otters’ high susceptibility to exposure is due to their diet. ( Log Out /  In the water they need to watch out for both sharks and killer whales. This study took advantage of the otters' relatively sudden arrival in the area near Santa Cruz, California, to monitor their prey selection in the first two years of residence there. They’re members of the pinnipeds family that also includes fur seals and sea lions. Sea otters dive to rocky reefs, where they collect invertebrates and also a large rock. Sea lions are a problem in some areas as well. Sea otters are carnivores that feed on an array of marine species—mostly invertebrates like crabs, clams, urchins, snails and worms. Other than sea otters, sea lions prey on squids, whiting, lamprey, herring, dogfish, anchovy, rockfish, sandlance, arrowtooth flounder, salmon, and clams, among others. Later, traps and guns emerged at the height of the hunt for the mammals. Sea otters prey on urchins, which consume kelp. Prey selection.—Sea otters in this study preyed upon at least 19 identified species on 7,888 successful foraging dives where prey was identified . Others, such as commercial fishermen, consider otters as competitors out to reduce their catch. This metabolism needs to be continually stoked with energy in the form of food, and sea otters must consume as much as 25% of their body weight each day in order to stay warm and survive. A large proportion of this prey consists of filter-feeders, such as mussels and clams. The increased sea urchin population has led to a decrease in kelp densities. Eagles can be a problem too for the smaller Otters and the young. Their diet varies according to regions and has changed significantly through time. In total, ott… They have an interesting method of eating their prey. Coyotes have a strong sense of smell and excellent vision. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. 8 Top Predators of Sea Otters that Eat Sea Otter. They can run at 40 miles an hour, making them exceptional hunters. Sea lions are another major predator of sea otters. On land they have to be careful about coyotes. diving sea ducks, benthic feeding fishes, lobsters and predatory sea stars) feed on many of the same prey species as sea otters, none appear to effectively compete with sea otters for food. While sea otters might look like cuddly creatures, they can be very defensive when they or their offspring are in danger. However, in recent years, the population of sea otters has declined significantly courtesy of main sea otter predator, the bald eagle. Today, most people use traps for hunting them.eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'factsking_com-medrectangle-4','ezslot_2',128,'0','0'])); Some people hunt otters just for the thrill of killing them. They, therefore, kill otters so they can’t eat the fish and other sea creatures. Sometimes, though, otters get caught fishermen’s nets.eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'factsking_com-box-4','ezslot_4',129,'0','0'])); One of the biggest predators of sea otters are coyotes. A companion study published in PeerJ in 2019 found that the entire bay has enough prey to feed about 6,600 sea otters. Other than sea otters, sea lions prey on squids, whiting, lamprey, herring, dogfish, anchovy, rockfish, sandlance, arrowtooth flounder, salmon, and clams, among others. While feeding, Californian sea lions often cooperate with other species such as sea birds and dolphins.eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'factsking_com-large-mobile-banner-1','ezslot_6',133,'0','0'])); Killer whales have not always preyed on sea otters. ( Log Out /  ( Log Out /  Besides, they eat some fish species, and various crustaceans and mollusks. Like many other animals, sea otters find their safety in numbers. They use the rock as a table against which they smash their shelled prey to … Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are not like other marine mammals. An otter must consume approximately 25% of its bodyweight in prey each day just to stay alive (for a 75 pound kid, that would amount to eating 75 quarter pound hamburgers every day!). But that study did not map food abundance in specific parts of the bay. Otters eat up to 30 percent of their body weight each day, and when they prey on lots of shellfish and urchins, kelp forests can regrow and give salmon and rockfish and others a place to stay.  The sea otter’s predator depends on where the specific sea otter lives. However, these two have experienced a significant decline in their population. Change ), Sea Otters and Their Role in the Ecosystem. Sea otters have a baggy patch of skin under their forelimbs which is used for storage. They open the shells of some of their prey, with stones and a piece of wood. Researchers working in Alaska’s Katmai Coast have discovered a surprising new interaction between mammals on small islands off the coast: grizzly bears are preying on sea otters. They are known to eat clams, mussels, crabs, octopus, sea urchins, snails, and fat innkeeper worms. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. This competition has seen brown bears, which are quite adaptable, begin to prey on sea otters. They have a thick fur coat that acts as their primary insulation.         The sea otter’s diet includes about 40 marine species, including urchins, crabs, clams, abalones, mussels, and snails. Adults weigh up to 99 pounds and are the weasel family’s heaviest animals, but strangely the smallest of all marine mammals. A large male may consume as much as 11 kg (25 lb.)  Sea otters eat about 25% of their weight every day, and is arguably the number one cause in sea otter deaths, when they cannot forage enough food to feed themselves. Sea otters eat sea urchins, abalone, mussels, clams, crabs, snails and other 40 marine species. Interestingly, the predators do not actually feed on the otters. Researchers recently tested how sea otters distinguish objects with the sense of touch. Most sea lions aren’t picky eaters and feed a wide range of seafood. It is only after biting the sea otters that white sharks realize their mistake. In response, bald eagles have had to adjust their foraging tactics and look for prey elsewhere. Sea otters eat between 20-35% of their own body weight daily. Giant otters often hold their prey in their paws while eating it. Different from true seals, they have external ear flaps. They prey on crustaceans by using pairs of rocks to crush the outer shells, easily accessing the soft flesh inside. Sea otters eat sea urchins in abundance where they both occur but also prey on crabs and other crustaceans and mollusks. Below are eight of sea otters’ predators. Scientists have sought to establish why white sharks would be attacking sea otters, yet they don’t feed on them. Sea otters are considered a keystone species and play a major role in the community by controlling herbivorous invertebrates.Sea otters prey on sea urchins, thereby preventing sea urchins from overgrazing the kelp forest.This allows the kelp forest … They eat about 25% of their weight in food each day due to their accelerated metabolism. Further, they consume cephalopods, birds, crustaceans, and, occasionally, other pinnipeds. Humans hunt sea otters for their meat and fur. I hope that this article on sea otter predators was helpful! Sea otters eat a wide variety of prey, including marine invertebrates such as echinoderms ( sea stars and sea urchins), crustaceans (e.g., crabs), cephalopods (e.g., squid), bivalves (clams, mussels, abalone), gastropods (snails), and chitons. Sea otters eat invertebrates such as sea urchis, clams, crabs, etc. And they sometimes use rocks to break open their prey. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. Sea otters spend much of their day foraging for more than fifty kinds of marine invertebrate prey including mussels, clams, abalone, octopuses, crabs and sea urchins. Sea otters are sea mammals native to the eastern and northern parts of the North Pacific Ocean. A Sea Otter's Diet. Predators and Prey of the Sea Otter The sea otter’s diet includes about 40 marine species, including urchins, crabs, clams, abalones, mussels, and snails. Most sea lions aren’t picky eaters and feed a wide range of seafood. 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