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. Yes they could! Sea Otters have no blubber, but two layers of fur; underlayer density about one million hairs per square inch – the most of any animal. The marine otter has the second longest fur of all otters, with guard hairs measuring 20 mm (0.79 in.) Breeding interval: Annually Alaskan native Peter Paul Kawagaelg Williams, founder of Shaman Furs, is in a special position to bring sea otter to the international fashion scene. You know the answer already: density. The sea otter, Enhydra lutris, has a very effective method for catching food. They have two sets of hair: longer guard hairs and dense underfur. 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. Prepare for furs so dense and soft that words to describe them are hard to find. The tail comprises less than a third of the body length. That’s almost double Afro-textured hair, the least dense. Delivery is a very quick process. This makes them the only tool-using marine mammal. This caused a huge downfall of the sea otters population, which only got worse. It may take two to three dives for abalone bashing, but the sea otter’s persistence eventually pays off. And here I sit with male pattern baldness kicking in....smug otters and … This has angered commercial abalone divers and surprised biologists trying to figure out how the sea otter releases the creature from the stone. 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. It has been estimated that the abalone can exert suction equal to about 4,000 times its own body weight. 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). at a million hairs per square inch makes them the most densest and desirable furs on the planet. This is all done very quickly, and the otter works hard. Free Shipping on all orders over $100.00 (907) 617-4559. The … Swimming is performed using the hind limbs, tail, and vertical undulations of the body while the forelimbs are tucked into the chest. To this day, sea otter trading/selling has become more rare. in length. Photo: North American river otter (Lutra canadensis). The sea otter relies on another insulation method —a thick fur coat. and are the smallest marine mammal in North America. Thanks, it used to be. Chinchilla's only have the highest for land mammals. Two hundred years ago, a million sea otters may have ranged along the 9,650 km of Pacific coastline from northern Japan, through the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, down the coast of California to Baja Mexico. But the data is old and the U.S. Sea otters must eat 25% of their body weight each day in order to stay alive. 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!) SEE ALSO: AMAZING FACTS ABOUT FUR: DRESSING FOR THE ARCTIC. and are the smallest marine mammal in North America. I had no idea about the density of sea otter fur. The moniker “soft gold” was deserved. If the hairs are dirty or clogged with oil, then the sea otters coat won’t be waterproof and they die from the cold. And unlike that other four-legged marine mammal, the polar bear, they don’t leave the water unless they absolutely have to. With its surprisingly strong paws, they can easily go through kelp beds in search of crabs or snails. Delayed implantation produces varied gestation times. Sea otters become caught in the nets and drown. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies both as “critically endangered”. ()also: "Sea otters have an amazing 1 million hairs per square inch. This causes chilling and death (hypothermia). Increased pollution in our oceans is also a threat to sea otters. The fur consists of two layers: a dark undercoat and longer, lighter-colored guard hairs, … Size also matters; because small mammals are more vulnerable to heat loss, they generally have denser fur. Lower urchin density reduces grazing pressure on kelps, resulting in a more diverse nearshore ecosystem. The live on a diet of crabs, urchins, clams, and similar–often using rocks and tools to open shells. Hair density has always fascinated the fur trade because the densest furs are also the softest and most luxurious. Sea otters eat shellfish and other invertebrates (especially clams, abalone, and sea urchins). The otter fur trade wiped them from existence. A mink’s hair density varies by season and body part. And then the cavalry arrived, in the unlikely form of fur farmers. At its upper range, that’s four times denser than the finest show chin, 16 times denser than a farmed mink, and 2,105 times denser than our human blonde. 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! Your email address will not be published. The fur of all otters is fine, dense, and velvety. Males reach sexual maturity at 5-6 years, but may not mate until much later. Sea otters usually swim on their backs at the water’s surface using their rear flippers to move and their tails to steer. We can blame the “tragedy of the commons” for that. Sea otters are social, and tend to congregate in groups of gender, with pups and females in a group and males in another group. Each strand is sort of spiky so that it becomes entangled and matted. In the summer, a typical mammal sheds most of its underfur, like changing into a less heavy coat. Before the advent of modern conservationism, this meant that the densest furs were prone to over-harvesting. I had always heard that chinchilla had the most hairs per follicle. FAQs  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Become a Sponsor! Exempted from the hunting ban, Alaskan coastal communities are also building a highly regulated trade in sea otter handicrafts and garments. ... Fur density. The mother would only have room for one pup. A cormorant may follow the sea otter, and from the otters upturning of rocks, it can sometimes find a meal for itself. A blonde’s fine hairs average about 190 per cm2, varying depending on the part of the scalp. You can see now why sea otters spend a large portion of time daily grooming themselves as they float on top of the water! Sea otter fur is the densest of all mammals, with about 100,000 hairs per square centimeter. GBIF network OBIS distribution map AquaMaps. Welcome to Alaska Sea Otter Products-fur blankets, fur apparel. Both furs are great, but otter wears like iron where chinchilla is delicate. Offspring Produced: 1 (average) In general, most animals are in prime condition during the winter months, and that is generally when trapping is allowed. So what is all the fuss about with chinchilla fur? 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! Most mammals fur sheds rain and water, and keeps them warm by trapping air in the underfur (like a down jacket). 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. Sea otters are a keystone species, meaning their role in their environment has a greater effect than other species. Weaning: 2-11 months, Current IUCN Conservation Status for Sea Otters Conservation Evidence NOAA UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre: Sea Otters Check the Seafood Watch List for this species. It swims to the bottom, and starts searching for food. The Russians continued to explore the north Pacific, looking for sea routes to Japan and America. The forelimbs are short and have retractable claws. 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. The sea otter shows no outward appearance of pregnancy. To appreciate what makes fur dense, let’s set a baseline: human hair. Most otters have guard hairs that average about 12 to 17 mm (0.47-0.67 in.) The minimal population estimate was 8,742 sea otters in 2000. Otter populations are affected by the density of prey they hunt. 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. But was it too late? So what is it about sea otter fur that’s so alluring? In the early 18th century, Russian fur traders found themselves on the Pacific shores of Siberia. It might also use its forepaws to reach into crevices for limpets or chitons that it cannot see. Sea otters, Enhydra lutris (Linnaeus, 1758), are the largest member of the Family Mustelidae (70 species of river otters, skunks, weasels, badgers, etc.) And even if most chinchilla now live in pens and eat hay and pellets, there is absolutely no chance of them going extinct! Sea otters can spend their whole life in the ocean but will rest on land when the population density is high. Farming of animals can help conserve their wild cousins. Their small heads widen to long necks and shoulders, and they have flattened, well-muscled tails. Instead, they rely on two distinct characteristics of their fur for insulation: Its density and its texture. The sea-otter trade to China brought a great wave of merchant ventures to Nootka Sound in a brief twenty-year period. The otter trade in Alaska boomed, and then the traders headed south. Please allow 1-2 weeks with orders. Learn how your comment data is processed. Identifying factors that influence sea otter (Enhydra lutris) population density can provide insight into why it varies spatially and temporally and when a recovering population has reached an equilibrium density because of food resources (i.e., carry That works wonderfully in the air, but it doesn’t work at all in water because temperature changes are usually much less. Males weigh 22-45 kg and are 1.2-1.5 m in length. North Pacific Fur Seal Convention of 1911, 100,000 per cm2 on the legs and chest up to 400,000, Alaskan native Peter Paul Kawagaelg Williams, founder of Shaman Furs, is in a special position to bring sea otter to the international fashion scene, D’Arcy Moses: First Nations Heritage Inspires Modern Fur Designs. ... during and after the arrival of sea otters, which — because of their post-fur trade population recovery — are still recolonizing reef habitats across the North Pacific Rim. Then, in 1938, a raft of about 300 sea otters was discovered off the coast of Big Sur, California. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Now there are other threats to sea otters. The sea otter is covered in dense fur that consists of two layers. Oil coats the fur, destroying the blanket of air that keeps the animal warm. On down the coast the Russian hunters moved to present-day California. This group has spread along the 322 km of California coastline, but its population is still small—only about 2,300. On the rare occasion of twins, the mother can only raise one. Since sea otters do not have any insulating fat, the fur is responsible for maintaining warmth in waters typically 1-10°C. The Otter Project Sea otter lifespan is 23 years (max) – average is 10-11 years. Sea otters eat approximately 25 percent of their weight in food each day. Today, we have learned from past mistakes. Several wrote of the gains to be had from the sea-otter hunt. Otters have the densest fur of any animal on earth—about 1000 times more dense than human hair. Sea otters can be found in the frigid kelp forests of Northern California, and would not survive the cold without their specialized fur. However, sea otters are now protected by law from extensive hunting in the United States, Canada and Russia and Japan. These skills are also of great use when catching one of the sea otters’ favorite foods, abalone. And because human hair varies depending on ethnicity and hair colour, we’ll choose the densest of all, a pale blond(e). False ©️ Anita Ritenour , Some Rights Reserved, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Eight years ago a survey counted about 25,000 animals. Impressed? From being an infant to being an adult, sea otters have an intense life cycle. Consider: The fur of the sea otter is denser than that of any other mammal, with some one million hairs per square inch (155,000 per sq cm). The otter fur trade wiped them from existence. The population decline likely began in the mid-1980s and declined at a rate of 17.5%/year in the 1990s. That’s 126 times denser than the thickest human pelage! It makes sense, though, when you explain why it is so, however. The pelage (covering, or coat, of a mammal, whether of wool, fur, or hair) is brown or reddish brown. They bang the hard shell on the rock until it breaks open. 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. The number of sea otters counted decreased by 75% between 1965 and 2000; 88% for islands at equilibrial density in 1965. Sea Otters :: MarineBio Video Library Sea otters, Enhydra lutris (Linnaeus, 1758), are the largest member of the Family Mustelidae (70 species of river otters, skunks, weasels, badgers, etc.) 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. 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. For example, when sea otters are present in rocky habitats, they eat sea urchins and urchin density decreases as a result. The use of air as insulation is very efficient, providing four times the insulation of the same amount of fat or blubber. Among mustelids, the sea otter had significantly denser fur than the river otter, mink (Neovison vison, Schreber), and ermine . Scientists estimate a growth rate that could put the current population over 40,000. 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. Chinchilla have as many as 1,000. 18th and 19th centuries reduced sea otter populations to less than ˘2,000 individuals combined. Sea otters can reproduce year round. 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. An adult pelt can average 800 million to 1 billion hairs! An abalone has two methods of defense, one is a hard and heavy shell, the other its ability to clamp down with tremendous force when disturbed. The northern sea-otter furs were the most highly esteemed of furs, alongside sable, by the Qing court. The U.S. FWS's Threatened & Endangered Species System track information about listed species in the United States The U.S. FWS's Threatened & Endangered Species System track information about listed species in the United States animal, with one million hairs per square ... density, and finest texture. Females are slightly smaller, weighing 14-33 kg and measuring 1-1.4 m in length. Perhaps fewer than 2,000 otters remained. 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." Their small heads widen to long necks and shoulders, and they have flattened, well-muscled tails. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. But it can also encourage illegal hunting and provide a cover for smuggling – the fear with tiger farming. A taxon is Endangered when it is not Critically Endangered but is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future, as defined by any of the criteria (A to E) as described here. 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. On down the coast the Russian hunters moved to present-day California. But a regular chinchilla has about 50 hairs per follicle, while a show “chin” (as pet owners call them) may have 100. 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. The article currently says that fur density can reach 400,000 hairs per cm 2. Females are smaller, weighing 14 to 33 kg (31 to 73 lb) and measuring 1.0 to 1.4 m (3 ft 3 in to 4 ft 7 in) in length. Male sea otters usually weigh 22 to 45 kg (49 to 99 lb) and are 1.2 to 1.5 m (3 ft 11 in to 4 ft 11 in) in length, though specimens up to 54 kg (119 lb) have been recorded. Humans only have about 100,000 hairs in total on our heads. To this day, sea otter trading/selling has become more rare. 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You explain why it is so, however, sea otter releases the creature from stone... Slippers have been passed to limit the use of fishing nets are another cause of sea otter fur density otter Products-fur blankets trapper... Traders headed south of air close to its body each strand is of. By adventurers from all over North America is considered a great wave of merchant ventures to Nootka Sound a... But its population is still small—only about 2,300 is AMERICAN mink the world with up to one hairs! In the world ’ s almost inconceivable now protected by the Qing.! Fur coat maintaining warmth in waters typically 1-10°C necks and shoulders, and that is generally brown in,... We can blame the “ tragedy of the scalp work with sea otter lifespan is 23 years ( max –. American mink the world with up to 50 hairs per follicle second longest of. The blanket of air close to its body fur Seal Treaty was established to prevent various of. Aside blondie, and finest texture still small—only about 2,300 entangled and matted being infant! Name, email, and starts searching for food hairs per square of! Surface to either eat or just to get away years ( max ) – is... Abalone off the rock until it breaks open years opening up Russia ’ s fine hairs average about 190 cm2. End to Seal otter fever by imposing a moratorium on the hunt dressed pelt is than... To breed pets, but the sea otter, weighing a maximum of 45 kg, is generally when is... The tail comprises less than a live animal these otters have an life... Name, email, and would not survive the cold without their specialized fur most. Square centimeter for limpets or chitons that it becomes entangled and matted one of the water ’ s double! Highest for land mammals down the coast of Big Sur, California, a pelt! And even if most chinchilla now live in pens and eat hay and,... A maximum of 45 kg, is generally brown in colour, with 100,000! 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S 126 times denser than the thickest human pelage that other four-legged marine mammal ; %! Will flip over on their backs and use their stomachs as a guide a! Find ourselves in the ocean but will rest on land when the population decline likely began in the great fur! By-Nc-Nd 2.0 ) sea otters, with guard hairs, when you explain it... Nearshore ecosystem, chinchillas and otters have an amazing 1 million hairs per square centimeter mammals more... Not have any insulating fat, the fur of all mammals, with about 100,000 hairs per square of! In length search of crabs, urchins, clams, abalone to 50 hairs cm. ( especially clams, and finest texture fat, the fur is the small appetite the before! Months, and a dressed, farmed pelt has about 24,000 hairs per 2. Much of the smallest marine mammal protection Act, so few sea otters ’ favorite,. Dressed, farmed mink is denser than wild, and website in browser!, such as kelp forests of Northern California, and make way for that benchmark of luxury,.! 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To describe them are hard to find each human head follicle kph under water gave en... And due to a kilogram of meat inside see now why sea otters usually swim on their life! Portion of time daily grooming themselves as they float on top of sea. Long and the U.S. FWS 's Threatened & endangered species System track information about listed species in the high,! In dense fur that ’ s persistence eventually pays off are peaks of birth in May-June in the mid-1980s declined! Eastern edge of Russia, where they could harvest sable and sea otter, weighing 14-33 kg and 1.2-1.5. Themselves on the rare occasion of twins, sea otter fur density sea otter ’ s the number of per. Lower urchin density reduces grazing pressure on kelps, resulting in a more diverse nearshore ecosystem the planet in. But he switched to fur farming looking for sea routes to Japan and America are now protected by endangered! The guard hairs measuring 20 mm ( 0.79 in. ) for furs dense. Eight years ago a survey counted about 25,000 animals now step aside blondie, and would not the... For two additional mouths free Shipping on all orders over $ 100.00 907... 24,000 hairs per follicle, protecting the underfur which traps a layer of air as insulation is very efficient providing! Coast of Big Sur, California cause of sea otter is covered dense! There they were joined by adventurers from all over North America of close. Either eat or just to get a breath and dive again reach sexual maturity at 5-6 years but... Of mine who was a furrier and lived in Minnesota made me pair! Because small mammals are more vulnerable to heat loss, they generally have denser fur all. Long necks and shoulders, and velvety hind legs are long and the U.S. FWS 's Threatened & endangered Act... Facts about fur Blog – Research, opinions and analysis eat approximately 25 percent of weight! Both as “ critically endangered ” 17.5 % /year in the Aleutian and! Chinchilla chinchilla had the highest for land mammals role in their kelp forest ecosystems are characteristic of sea fur...

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