The tail comprises less than a third of the body length. ... Fur density. and are the smallest marine mammal in North America. Sea otters usually swim on their backs at the water’s surface using their rear flippers to move and their tails to steer. It might also use its forepaws to reach into crevices for limpets or chitons that it cannot see. but other problems began to occuring more fequently. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Their average dive lasts about a minute; the longest dive recorded, however, lasted 4 minutes. Humans only have about 100,000 hairs in total on our heads. Sea otter fur is the densest of all mammals with 100,000-400,000 hairs/sq cm (that’s up to one million hairs per square inch!) Since 1998, the MarineBio Conservation Society has been a nonprofit volunteer marine conservation and science education group working online together to educate the world about ocean life, marine biology, marine conservation, and a sea ethic. To appreciate what makes fur dense, let’s set a baseline: human hair. That’s almost double Afro-textured hair, the least dense. Sea Otter Furs are the most sought after furs. Because sea otters do not have any insulating fat, the fur is responsible for heat maintenance. The article currently says that fur density can reach 400,000 hairs per cm 2. The fur of all otters is fine, dense, and velvety. But was it too late? On the rare occasion of twins, the mother can only raise one. It all began with Californian miner Mathias Chapman who, in 1923, was allowed by Chile to take 11 live chinchilla home for breeding. GBIF network OBIS distribution map AquaMaps. In 1775 otter pelts sold in the Russian port of Okhotsk at up to 30 times the price of sable. ()also: "Sea otters have an amazing 1 million hairs per square inch. The northern sea-otter furs were the most highly esteemed of furs, alongside sable, by the Qing court. Clams don’t just sit there waiting to be picked up by some sea otter or recreational digger, they want to live, so consequently, the sea otter has to dig to get the clam. Thanks for the education. To this day, sea otter trading/selling has become more rare. Their small heads widen to long necks and shoulders, and they have flattened, well-muscled tails. Size also matters; because small mammals are more vulnerable to heat loss, they generally have denser fur. The short, more dense, under layer of fur can have as many as 1 million hairs per square inch, which is the densest of any mammal. North American river otters, also called Canadian otters, have long, muscular, streamlined bodies with short legs and fully webbed feet bearing non-retractable claws. The Otter Project Pups are small, ranging from 1-3 kg. We can blame the “tragedy of the commons” for that. Females usually give birth about once a year. Pregnancy has been reported to be 4-12 months. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies both as “critically endangered”. Sea otters become caught in the nets and drown. and underhairs measuring 12 mm (0.47 in.). The U.S. FWS's Threatened & Endangered Species System track information about listed species in the United States Custom work with sea otter furs. This group has spread along the 322 km of California coastline, but its population is still small—only about 2,300. By the late 1700s, British and American hunters had begun harvesting otter pelts in California and selling them to trading outfits including Hudson’s Bay Company. Now step aside blondie, and make way for that benchmark of luxury, mink. As a precaution given the lesson of history, IUCN still classifies them as endangered, but Alaskan fishermen are now complaining the population is growing so fast, they’ve become a pest! Unlike the river otter, the sea otter mother is the pup’s cradle, protection, and home for the first months of its life. Today, chinchilla farms are found from Canada to Argentina, and in many European countries, and almost all their stock are believed to descend from Chapman’s original 10. Otters have the densest fur of any animal on earth—about 1000 times more dense than human hair. And here I sit with male pattern baldness kicking in....smug otters and … But unlike sea otters, the sea cows didn’t survive the onslaught. When the otter swims, its coat traps a layer of air close to its body. Thankfully, in 1911,sea otters received protection, as the International Fur Seal Treaty was established to prevent various exercies of trading. Alaska is unique. And that’s why sea otters have the greatest follicle density of any mammal, and hair density that ranges from 100,000 per cm2 on the legs and chest up to 400,000 on the sides and rump. If sea otters are frightened they will flip over on their stomachs and swim away sometimes diving underwater to get away. They have two sets of hair: longer guard hairs and dense underfur. Sea otters were documented at the mouth of Glacier Bay around 1988 and since then have colonized and expanded throughout much of the bay. Chinchilla's only have the highest for land mammals. To this day, sea otter trading/selling has become more rare. And unlike that other four-legged marine mammal, the polar bear, they don’t leave the water unless they absolutely have to. Starting from the Kuril Islands, the traders island-hopped across the North Pacific, harvesting one otter population after another, plus highly profitable hair seals they found along the way. Females tend to stay away from males except when mating. The short, more dense, under layer of fur can have as many as 1 million hairs per square inch, which is the densest of any mammal. But unlike sea otters, the sea cows didn’t survive the onslaught. Sea otters can spend their whole life in the ocean but will rest on land when the population density is high. So dense is a chin’s fur that it’s said fleas and ticks can’t penetrate it, and if they could, they’d suffocate! I had always heard that chinchilla had the most hairs per follicle. Then there’s the number of hairs per follicle. But it can also encourage illegal hunting and provide a cover for smuggling – the fear with tiger farming. SEE ALSO: AMAZING FACTS ABOUT FUR: DRESSING FOR THE ARCTIC. For its size, the male otter's baculum is very large, massive and bent upwards, measuring 150 mm (5.9 in) in length and 15 mm (0.59 in) at the base. Their dense, short under-fur is overlain by darker, coarse guard hairs that help repel water. The study of sea otter colonization in Glacier Bay provides important insight into the ability of a species to recover from near extirpation, as well as the impact of recent deglaciation on their recovery. The southern sea otter was thought to be extinct. The population decline likely began in the mid-1980s and declined at a rate of 17.5%/year in the 1990s. In the early 18th century, Russian fur traders found themselves on the Pacific shores of Siberia. otters: "With up to 150,000 strands of hair per square centimeter" chinchilla: "In fact, they have the highest fur density of any land animal with more than 20,000 hairs per square cm." Sea Otters have no blubber, but two layers of fur; underlayer density about one million hairs per square inch – the most of any animal. Offspring Produced: 1 (average) Sea otters have the thickest coat of any . They will eat nearly any seafood they can find in their kelp forest foraging grounds. This has helped some sea otter populations. Sea otter fur is the densest in the world with up to one million hairs per square inch. This is all done very quickly, and the otter works hard. Truth About Fur Blog – Research, opinions and analysis. Sea otters can be found in the frigid kelp forests of Northern California, and would not survive the cold without their specialized fur. With its surprisingly strong paws, they can easily go through kelp beds in search of crabs or snails. The guard hairs, when clean, are waterproof, protecting the underfur which traps a layer of air to provide insulation. While the soles of the slippers have been replaced a few times the fur is perfect. The otter trade in Alaska boomed, and then the traders headed south. Oil spills can be fatal to the sea otter. The sea otter gets ready to dive, and with a huge breath, leaps into the water. The use of air as insulation is very efficient, providing four times the insulation of the same amount of fat or blubber. Sea otters have rebounded in two-thirds of their historic range, and are today cited as a great success story in the annals of marine conservation. The most direct effect of humans on sea otter population density was the fur trade, the legacy of which is still apparent today in large areas of unoccupied habitat (Figure 2). The clam can bury itself 10-50 cms under the sand. With 8 … It swims to the bottom, and starts searching for food. Also, farmed mink is denser than wild, and a dressed pelt is denser than a live animal. Sea otters eat approximately 25 percent of their weight in food each day. Their small heads widen to long necks and shoulders, and they have flattened, well-muscled tails. You know the answer already: density. Well hold on. Only late in the day, in 1910, did the range states of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru unite to ban the trade, but effective enforcement was still decades away. in 1965 and 1992. By Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, Dec. 1, 2016. Spanish explorers first sent chinchilla pelts home in the 16th century, but it wasn’t until the late 19th century that Europeans developed an insatiable appetite for them. The otter fur trade wiped them from existence. Because the pelts of sea otters are thick, warm and beautiful, fur hunters killed hundreds of thousands of them—until not a single sea otter was visible along the entire California coastline. The sea otter is covered in dense fur that consists of two layers. By the late 1700s, British and American hunters had begun harvesting otter pelts in California and selling them to trading outfits including Hudson’s Bay Company. The mother would have a hard time getting enough food for two additional mouths. They are slow swimmers, about 9 kph under water. Sea otters need superb insulation because, unlike other marine mammals, they have no blubber. Lutra lutra exhibited a mean hair density of about 70 000 hairs/cm2 (whole body, appendages excepted), the mean individual density ranging from about 60 000 to 80 000 hairs/cm2. Ten survived the trip and one gave birth en route. When it’s underwater, it can use its extremely sensitive whiskers (called vibrassae) to find a small crab or snail hiding in the seaweed or a crevice. They bang the hard shell on the rock until it breaks open. Sea otters have the thickest coat of any animal, with one million hairs per square inch of skin. The moniker “soft gold” was deserved. No other terrestrial mammal comes close. Sea otters dive up to 37 m to find food. When sea otters come to the surface they lie on their backs and use their stomachs as a table. The sea otter would hold the stone in both paws, and hammer the side of the shell at the rate of 45 blows in 15 seconds! That is dense fur! Animals with the densest furs live where climates are cold, humid and windy. Free Shipping on all orders over $100.00 (907) 617-4559. And so we find ourselves in the high Andes, home of the long-tailed Chinchilla lanigera and short-tailed Chinchilla chinchilla. Very interesting article quite enjoyed it. This has angered commercial abalone divers and surprised biologists trying to figure out how the sea otter releases the creature from the stone. 18th and 19th centuries reduced sea otter populations to less than ˘2,000 individuals combined. Populations collapsed, prices soared, and by the early 20th century a peasant trapper could feed his family for a month with just one pelt – if he could find one! While humans have one hair per hair follicle, chinchillas and otters have up to 50 hairs per follicle. Increased pollution in our oceans is also a threat to sea otters. By meeting demand, it reduces pressure on wild populations, as in the case of mink and fox. otters: "With up to 150,000 strands of hair per square centimeter" chinchilla: "In fact, they have the highest fur density of any land animal with more than 20,000 hairs per square cm." SEE ALSO: WHY IS AMERICAN MINK THE WORLD’S FAVOURITE FUR? Like other mammals, otters have two types of fur: long, stout guard hairs, and a more dense arrangement of short, fine underhairs. That’s 126 times denser than the thickest human pelage! Ocean Biogeographic Information System PLOS SIRIS Tree of Life Web Project UNEP-WCMC Species Database WoRMS, Search for Sea Otters @Flickr Google Picsearch Wikipedia YouTube. Then, in 1938, a raft of about 300 sea otters was discovered off the coast of Big Sur, California. Hair density has always fascinated the fur trade because the densest furs are also the softest and most luxurious. Humans only have about 100,000 hairs in total on our heads. The Marine Mammal Center, Sea Otter, Enhydra lutris, Research Enhydra lutris @Barcode of Life BioOne Biodiversity Heritage Library CITES Cornell Macaulay Library Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) ESA Online Journals FishBase Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department GBIF Google Scholar ITIS IUCN RedList (Threatened Status) Marine Species Identification Portal NCBI (PubMed, GenBank, etc.) References updated! In general, most animals are in prime condition during the winter months, and that is generally when trapping is allowed. And then the cavalry arrived, in the unlikely form of fur farmers. Several wrote of the gains to be had from the sea-otter hunt. Sea otters are a highly endangered marine mammal. And because human hair varies depending on ethnicity and hair colour, we’ll choose the densest of all, a pale blond(e). But a regular chinchilla has about 50 hairs per follicle, while a show “chin” (as pet owners call them) may have 100. But as a guide, a dressed, farmed pelt has about 24,000 hairs per cm2. These otters have brown-to-gray fur, and their undersides are a lighter, silvery shade. Sea otters are the only carnivore with just 4 lower incisors. The sea otter connection. Photo: North American river otter (Lutra canadensis). The sea otter shows no outward appearance of pregnancy. Hairs grow in tufts, with 1-3 (rarely 4) sprouting from each human head follicle. Fur length varies considerably with the species. A friend of mine who was a furrier and lived in Minnesota made me a pair of otter slippers over a decade ago. Welcome to Alaska Sea Otter Products-fur blankets, fur apparel. Chinchilla have as many as 1,000. This caused a huge downfall of the sea otters population, which only got worse. The otter fur trade wiped them from existence. In the summer, a typical mammal sheds most of its underfur, like changing into a less heavy coat. These skills are also of great use when catching one of the sea otters’ favorite foods, abalone. It may take two to three dives for abalone bashing, but the sea otter’s persistence eventually pays off. Thankfully the ground-breaking North Pacific Fur Seal Convention of 1911 put an end to seal otter fever by imposing a moratorium on the hunt. And that’s why sea otters have the greatest follicle density of any mammal, and hair density that ranges from 100,000 per cm2 on the legs and chest up to 400,000 on the sides and rump. The semi-aquatic river otter had a fur density significantly greater than that for the primarily terrestrial ermine, whereas the semi-aquatic mink had a comparably intermediate fur density. On down the coast the Russian hunters moved to present-day California. but other problems began to occuring more fequently. - Rachel Carson, © 1998-2021 | The MarineBio Conservation Society | Privacy Policy Friends of the Sea Otter Sites hosted by SiteGround | Designed, built, tested, and managed by MB, Symbionts, Parasites, Hosts & Cooperation, The Structures & Adaptations to Marine Living, Marine Science/Ocean Life Related Journals, Marine Biology Laboratories, Institutes & Graduate Programs, Worldwide Aquariums and Marine Life Centers, Frontline Marine Conservation/Science Support, Worldwide Aquariums & Marine Life Centers, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIWbjgPYcJY, Cute otters intimately filmed by spy camera | Spy in the Wild – BBC (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIWbjgPYcJY), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdy7DEhvsVU, Sea Otter Orphan Gets Adopted (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdy7DEhvsVU), Current IUCN Conservation Status for Sea Otters, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre: Sea Otters, Check the Seafood Watch List for this species, Center for Biological Diversity: Northern sea otters, U.S. I had no idea about the density of sea otter fur. False ©️ Anita Ritenour , Some Rights Reserved, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Could they ever recover? The number of sea otters counted decreased by 75% between 1965 and 2000; 88% for islands at equilibrial density in 1965. Breeding interval: Annually If the hairs are dirty or clogged with oil, then the sea otters coat won’t be waterproof and they die from the cold. Home; Random; Nearby; Log in; Settings; Donate; About Wikipedia; Disclaimers Now they took to their boats in pursuit of fur so dense, and so valuable, it was known as “soft gold”: sea otter. Perhaps fewer than 2,000 otters remained. The female otter will roll about in the water the same way she does when she is cleaning her tail, and on one roll, will come out of the water with a small, wet pup in her teeth. Drawn by a cornucopia of desirable furs, notably sable, they had spent 150 years opening up Russia’s vast eastern territory. Impressed? Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species, Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department, Foraminifera: Hard on The Outside, Squishy on the Inside, “Why there is hope that the world’s coral reefs can be saved”, THE BANDA ARC, Life in Alor and the Banda Sea (4k), Trying to Make Sense of This Overwhelming World, Designed, built, tested, and managed by MB. Making fur garments is a … While other marine mammals use a thick layer of blubber to keep warm, the sea otter uses its thick coat of fur, with a density approaching 165,000 hairs per square centimeter. Males weigh 22-45 kg and are 1.2-1.5 m in length. That means a 18 kg sea otter must eat 4.5 kg of food each day! Fur apparel. They are at great risk of extinction due to many reasons such as fur trade, shark attacks, habitat degradation, oil spills ,fishing nets, disease and being viewed as competition. Sea otters have a huge impact on commercial shellfish fisheries, the shellfish fisheries have been declining due to sea otters. The hair density of adult Eurasian otters Lutra lutra (Linnaeus, 1758) and sea otters Enhydra lutris (Linnaeus, 1758) was analysed using skin samples taken from frozen carcasses. The sea-otter trade to China brought a great wave of merchant ventures to Nootka Sound in a brief twenty-year period. Not even chinchilla compares. As top predators, sea otters are critical to maintaining the balance of nearshore ecosystems, such as kelp forests, embayments and estuaries. Overlain by darker, coarse guard hairs that help repel water crabs or snails rock until it breaks.! ) sprouting from each human head follicle is also a threat to sea otters in.... To provide insulation and fox sense, though, when you explain it. They hunt this browser for the next time i comment and then the traders headed south much later sea! 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