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Sea Otter

Sea Otter
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-09-16
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon 1D Mark II, Canon 400mm 2.8 IS
Exposure: f/3.2, 1/320 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): CeltickRanger's favorite wild animal photos 2 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2010-02-07 9:35
Viewed: 5307
Points: 36
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I took this shot from a boat from Sitka - we saw lots of sea otters and quite a few humpbacks - one breached.

The sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Adult sea otters typically weigh between 14 and 45 kg (30 to 100 lb), making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, but among the smallest marine mammals. Unlike most marine mammals, the sea otter's primary form of insulation is an exceptionally thick coat of fur, the densest in the animal kingdom. Although it can walk on land, the sea otter lives mostly in the ocean.

The sea otter inhabits nearshore environments where it dives to the sea floor to forage. It preys mostly upon marine invertebrates such as sea urchins, various molluscs and crustaceans, and some species of fish. Its foraging and eating habits are noteworthy in several respects. First, its use of rocks to dislodge prey and to open shells makes it one of the few mammal species to use tools. In most of its range, it is a keystone species, controlling sea urchin populations which would otherwise inflict extensive damage to kelp forest ecosystems. Its diet includes prey species that are also valued by humans as food, leading to conflicts between sea otters and fisheries.

Sea otters, whose numbers were once estimated at 150,000300,000, were hunted extensively for their fur between 1741 and 1911, and the world population fell to 1,0002,000 individuals in a fraction of their historic range. A subsequent international ban on hunting, conservation efforts, and reintroduction programs into previously populated areas have contributed to numbers rebounding, and the species now occupies about two-thirds of its former range. The recovery of the sea otter is considered an important success in marine conservation, although populations in the Aleutian Islands and California have recently declined or have plateaued at depressed levels. For these reasons (as well as its particular vulnerability to oil spills) the sea otter remains classified as an endangered species.

There are three recognized subspecies, which vary in body size and in some skull and dental characteristics:

1. The common sea otter, E. l. lutris (Linnaeus, 1758), ranges from the Kuril Islands to the Commander Islands in the western Pacific Ocean. Also known as the Asian sea otter, it is the largest subspecies with a wide skull and short nasal bones.

2. The southern sea otter, E. l. nereis (Merriam, 1904), is found off the coast of central California. Also known as the Californian sea otter, it has a narrower skull with a long rostrum and small teeth.

3. The northern sea otter, E. l. kenyoni (Wilson, 1991), is native to Alaska and the Pacific west coast from the Aleutian islands to British Columbia, Washington, and northern Oregon. After being extirpated from southern British Columbia south due to overhunting, it has since been re-introduced off Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula.
The reintroduction effort off the Oregon coast was not successful. However, reintroductions in 1969 and 1970 off the Washington coast were very successful and sea otters have been expanding their range since. They have now entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca and can be found almost as far east as Pillar Point. Individuals have even been seen in the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound.

The sea otter is diurnal. It has a period of foraging and eating in the morning, starting about an hour before sunrise, then rests or sleeps in mid-day. Foraging resumes for a few hours in the afternoon and subsides before sunset, and there may be a third foraging period around midnight. Females with pups appear to be more inclined to feed at night. Observations of the amount of time a sea otter must spend each day foraging range from 24 to 60%, apparently depending on the availability of food in the area.

The sea otter spends much of its time grooming, which consists of cleaning the fur, untangling knots, removing loose fur, rubbing the fur to squeeze out water and introduce air, and blowing air into the fur. To an observer it appears as if the animal is scratching, however sea otters are not known to have lice or other parasites in the fur. When eating, the sea otter rolls in the water frequently, apparently to wash food scraps from its fur.

Alex99, horia, nglen, roges, marianas, siggi, CeltickRanger, eng55, jaycee, MMM, nasokoun, maurydv, Argus, tuslaw, Adanac has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2010-02-07 9:43]

Hi James

Hahaha...now that's a pose!!! What a great capture!
I really love your timing here - the otter seems to be wondering what you were doing just them and scratching its head about it :))
What a terrific post, my friend! Otters are definitely great animals and really beautiful animals...but we hardly get any posts of them here on TN. Thanks a lot for this!

Cheers and warm regards

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2010-02-07 9:45]

Hi James, dear friend.
Excellent exposure parameters and precise DOF. You have reproduced this beautiful animal very nice. Its face with plenty details is simply shaming. Ripples on the water decorate the scene excellently. My compliments and TFS.

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2010-02-07 9:48]

Hi James. A wonderful picture of this Sea otter They are bigger than i thought they would be. Not easy to take a picture from a boat but you have done well with this one. Good dedtail in the face. I like the way its looking at you. all with interesting notes. TFS.

hello James
quel belle pose !!
tres belle photo avec de bon details
bravo a tres bientot

Hi James
Wonderful capture this lovely see otter!
Lovely details and colors.

  • Great 
  • zetu Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 967 W: 26 N: 3888] (16941)
  • [2010-02-07 11:03]

Hello James
Very nice capture. A cute portrait.
Thanks for sharing

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2010-02-07 11:35]

Hello James,
very cute, I love how you timed this shot. Excellent POV, and nice focus on the facial features and expression. Well done.
Best regards Siggi

hello James

excellent and beautiful photo of the Sea Otter prise sur le vif,
fine frontal POV, fine DOF, sharpness and details, i love its
pose and glance to you, TFS


  • Great 
  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2010-02-07 12:50]

Hi James,
Very beautiful capture of this cute sea otter.I liked POV,eye contact and composition a lot.
Thanks for posting..

Hello James
Your Sea Otter portrait is cute the way he's scratching his head and looking into your camera. It so exciting to see Otters swimming around close by. You captured him so nicely.
TFS Janice

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2010-02-07 15:07]

Hi James,

The expression on this Otter's face is priceless. He seems to be saying, " What is this man doing????" I love the colors and details of his face and coat. The water looks cold and rough.


  • Great 
  • MMM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1114 W: 0 N: 2546] (11425)
  • [2010-02-07 16:11]

Hi James
Nice capture with perfect timing in regard of the pause.Good POV and sharp image.I love the eye's contact.
TFS Michel

hello James
another different scene and subject, very good moment and photo output!
keep photographing MF! TFS

Hello James,
a very beautiful and interesting capture, very good sharpness and splendid colours, a very nice composition with a fantastic dynamic scene.
Best regards

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2010-02-08 4:24]

Hello James,
A fine capture of a Sea Otter caught from good POV in a nice pose that looks like it is scratching its head.
The surrounding water and the reflected light makes it show up well.
TFS this unusual posting together with a great note.

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2010-02-08 8:31]

Hello James,
What an excellent photo of this Sea Otter with eye contact. The natural colours are very nice and the sharpness is very good. Great DOF, composition and surrounding water.

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2010-02-09 20:37]

Hello James,
A great shot of this little guy who seems to be wondering just what in the world you find so interesting about him. Funny how light colored his head seems to be compared to the rest of his body.
Looks like the water was pretty rough at this particular time of day, but sounds like you still had a really good time on your boat ride.

  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2010-02-18 16:50]

Hello James,
Sea otters are a favorite of Lucy and I. They are just so damn cute and always look happy. Splendid image as always James, have a safe trip.

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