All About Otters


Ava Powell, Associate Editor

“All About Otters” 


What are otters? 

Otters are one of few marine life mammals. They mainly eat fish, crabs, crayfish, amphibians, small mammals, aquatic beetles, and birds. This makes them active hunters and even though they are considered aquatic, they only go into water to hunt and or to travel. While otters are hunters, they are also very playful and major cuddlers. Otters are very affectionate animals and do not shy away from showing their affection for one another. They love being around another otters and their babies at all times. While there are thirteen different kinds of otters, in the United States there are two species of otters, Sea Otters and River Otters. 

Sea Otters 

Sea otters are found in Southeast Alaska, British Columbia, California, and Washington. California sea otters live along the California coastline, from San Mateo County in the north to Santa Barbara county. Sea otters in California are a very threatened species due to over hunting. People hunt otters because they are known to have the thickest fur of any mammals. This is critical to otters cause they need it to insulate them from cold ocean waters. Although sea otters are protected better now, they still remain threatened due to oil spills in the oceans. Sea otters are great hunters, but are not at the top of the food chain. Orcas, great white sharks, sea lions and eagles are the most common predator of otters. But when threatened by a predator, they will use their babies to attempt to make the predator feel bad about eating them and feel compassion for them. 

Sea otters are two times the size of River Otters, and have short flattened tails that help with steering and swimming. It even helps crack open certain creatures they eat. To prevent floating out into the open sea they wrap themselves in kelp and hold other otters hands. Sea Otters like most other species of otters are very affectionate and love to be around other otters. They mostly stay with their pups.  Mother otters will teach their pups to swim for four weeks by pushing them into open water. This teaches them to lay on their back and eat while floating. 

River otters

River otters are found in North America from the Rio Grande to Canada and Alaska. They can stay underwater for as many as eight minutes. When on land they can run up to 15 miles an hour. Assuming the otter survives its first year of life, a typical North American river otter will live to the age of 12, with some surviving longer. River otters exhibit a variety of vocalizations, ranging from whistles and buzzes to twitters, staccato chuckles, chirps and growls. While some of these may seem intimidating to people they just are talking. River otters are playful and energetic, river otters often create “rolling spots” where they roll and tumble with each other. They will also slide into the water on paths of snow, dirt or ice. They love to run at high speeds and then slide on ice and or dirt. River otters are very flexible and can make sharp, sudden turns that help them catch fish. This is due to its long pointed tail and it’s long whiskers, which they use to detect prey in dark or murky waters. 

North american otters were mostly hunted in the 19th and 20th centuries, and are still hunted in some places today alongside being prey of Bobcats, alligators and coyotes. River otters aren’t a easy catch because they can run extremely fast they still get hunted frequently for their fur like all other otters. 

Otters are a amazing species and in my opinion one of the best animals to roam the planet. If your ever having a terrible day just look to the internet and search pictures of otters and you will have a smile for hours.