And Levi has helped document how sea otters have increasingly become prey for wolves around Glacier Bay National Park. They found that the predators simply mistake otters for other more nutritious prey such as sea lions and seals. Below are eight of sea otters’ predators. Interestingly, the predators do not actually feed on the otters. Consequently, the kelp forest ecosystem is gradually collapsing. They catch prey with their teeth. Sea otters are carnivores that feed on an array of marine species—mostly invertebrates like crabs, clams, urchins, snails and worms. Sea otters are foragers that eat mostly hard-shelled invertebrates, including sea urchins and a variety of clams, mussels, and crabs. Their favorite prey has always been sea lions and seals. Other than sea otters, sea lions prey on squids, whiting, lamprey, herring, dogfish, anchovy, rockfish, sandlance, arrowtooth flounder, salmon, and clams, among others. Today, they roam the American continent’s mountains and forests. Further, they consume cephalopods, birds, crustaceans, and, occasionally, other pinnipeds. Prey items include sea urchins, abalone, crabs, mussels, clams, marine snails, marine worms, sea stars, and squid. In fact, sea otters do not cause local extinction of species. Other than sea otters, sea lions prey on squids, whiting, lamprey, herring, dogfish, anchovy, rockfish, sandlance, arrowtooth flounder, salmon, and clams, among others. Sea otters inhabit the environments near shores where they dive to the floor of the sea to forage. Eared seals are recognized by their conspicuous ears and flippers. Common predators of sea otters include various predatory marine mammals such as orcas and sea lions. They have a thick fur coat that acts as their primary insulation. The increased sea urchin population has led to a decrease in kelp densities. Sea otters prey on urchins, which consume kelp. 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… Sea otters have a baggy patch of skin under their forelimbs which is used for storage. Research has shown that sea otters are vital to the health of carbon-absorbing kelp forests. As a result, the population of sea otters along the Californian coast has significantly decreased, raising concerns among conservationists. A companion study published in PeerJ in 2019 found that the entire bay has enough prey to feed about 6,600 sea otters. 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. Although sea otters can walk comfortably on land, they prefer to live solely in the ocean. Northern sea otters, from Washington to Alaska, more commonly prey … ( Log Out /  Most sea lions aren’t picky eaters and feed a wide range of seafood. These small creatures will be captured by sea otters when they dive, and brought to the surface. 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. Their diet varies according to regions and has changed significantly through time. According to the Seattle Aquarium, sea otters consume around 25 percent of their body weight in food every day to … While sea otters might look like cuddly creatures, they can be very defensive when they or their offspring are in danger. Humans hunt sea otters for their meat and fur. 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. Their diet varies according to regions and has changed significantly through time. They open the shells of some of their prey, with stones and a piece of wood. Besides, they eat some fish species, and various crustaceans and mollusks. This has led to a decline in sea otter numbers, especially in western Alaska. Sea otters eat about 25% to 30% of their weight. They use the rock as a table against which they smash their shelled prey to … Researchers recently tested how sea otters distinguish objects with the sense of touch. Sea otters are pretty petite compared to other marine mammals. 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. They use the fur to make handicrafts. This notwithstanding, shark bites now account for over half of sea otter deaths. The population of otters has been increasing ever since it was declared an endangered species and protected by the US. They’re members of the pinnipeds family that also includes fur seals and sea lions. 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 … However, with the decline in sea otter populations, bald eagles have to turn to marine fish. Southern sea otters off Central California prey largely on invertebrates, such as urchins, crabs, abalone, and clams. But, did you know that sea otters have animals that prey on them too? 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 … Sea otters have remarkable eating and foraging habits. They, therefore, kill otters so they can’t eat the fish and other sea creatures. 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. Bald eagles’ diet was once predominantly sea otter pups and kelp forest fish. ( Log Out /          The sea otter’s diet includes about 40 marine species, including urchins, crabs, clams, abalones, mussels, and snails. 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). Like many other animals, sea otters find their safety in numbers. And they sometimes use rocks to break open their prey. They have a unique foraging habit because they use rocks to kill their prey. USA ABSTRACT: Sea otters Enhydra lutris, well documented as 'keystone' predators in rocky marine 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. 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. They prey mostly on marine invertebrates, with sea urchins being their favorite. Adults weigh up to 99 pounds and are the weasel family’s heaviest animals, but strangely the smallest of all marine mammals. ( Log Out /  Giant otters often hold their prey in their paws while eating it. Methods of Collecting Food. Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are not like other marine mammals. Initially, they would use homemade weapons and arrows. They prey on crustaceans by using pairs of rocks to crush the outer shells, easily accessing the soft flesh inside. Which means that, despite their fur coats, they tend to lose heat quickly, and need lots of energy to stay warm. Others, such as commercial fishermen, consider otters as competitors out to reduce their catch. They have an interesting method of eating their prey. Sea otters are provided a varied diet while in human care. Sea otters eat sea urchins in abundance where they both occur but also prey on crabs and other crustaceans and mollusks. However, these two have experienced a significant decline in their population. They prey on sea urchins that feed on kelp. This competition has seen brown bears, which are quite adaptable, begin to prey on sea otters. This increase has seen it compete for clams with the brown bear. 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. Sea otters and kelp forests appear to meet these conditions. Sea otters are sea mammals native to the eastern and northern parts of the North Pacific Ocean.  On land, coyotes and bobcats also predate on otters. If sea otter populations in these areas continue to decline, what might happen with populations of sea urchins and kelp?  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. Later, traps and guns emerged at the height of the hunt for the mammals. A Sea Otter's Diet. Moss Landing, California 95039. 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. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. Scientists have sought to establish why white sharks would be attacking sea otters, yet they don’t feed on them. Sea lions are another major predator of sea otters. In environments where sea otter populations have been reintroduced, tall kelp forests are flourishing. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. 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. 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. 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. 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. Besides, they also prefer to eat crabs, large barnacles, mussels, snails, tubeworms, clams, squid, octopuses, chitons, scallops, sea cucumbers, sea stars and abalone. 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. Part of sea otters’ high susceptibility to exposure is due to their 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. It is only after biting the sea otters that white sharks realize their mistake.  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. They burn calories at three times the rate of humans and must consume 20-30% of their body weight daily. Eagles can be a problem too for the smaller Otters and the young. According to James Estes, sea otter populations have dropped dramatically in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. If you are interested, visit the Animal Facts Page! Influence of sea otters on soft-bottom prey communities in southeast Alaska Rikk G. Kvitek, John S. Oliver Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. They are known to eat clams, mussels, crabs, octopus, sea urchins, snails, and fat innkeeper worms. PO Box 450. While several other consumers (e.g.  Other predators include sea lions in certain areas, as well as eagles, which eat otter pups. This decline has seen sea urchins increase in number because sea otters are their main predator. 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. Humans have changed their way of hunting otters over the years. 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. Sea lions are a problem in some areas as well. But that study did not map food abundance in specific parts of the bay. The otter is predator to fish, eels in particular, but will also eat frogs, small birds, eggs and some small mammals. Eagles may also grab young otters if given the opportunity. Most sea lions aren’t picky eaters and feed a wide range of seafood. Sea otters consume over 100 prey species. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. They eat about 25% of their weight in food each day due to their accelerated metabolism. All in all, the sea otter preys on at least 100 different marine species. They have even managed to colonize cities such as Los Angeles and are found in most parts of North America. 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. Prey selection.—Sea otters in this study preyed upon at least 19 identified species on 7,888 successful foraging dives where prey was identified . Sea lions are another major predator of sea otters. a-Sea … 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!). I hope that this article on sea otter predators was helpful! In the water they need to watch out for both sharks and killer whales. In total, ott… Sea otters consume a wide variety of benthic invertebrates. Also, they prey on snakes, carrion, grass, and fruit. 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. The predators that Otters will encounter depend on where they happen to live. They use rocks for dislodging prey and opening shells, making them among the few mammals that use tools. 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. Different from true seals, they have external ear flaps. 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. 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).  The sea otter’s predator depends on where the specific sea otter lives. 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 can run at 40 miles an hour, making them exceptional hunters. Sea otters dive to rocky reefs, where they collect invertebrates and also a large rock. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. 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. Coyotes belong to the dog family, and once lived mainly in deserts and prairies. 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. Change ), Sea Otters and Their Role in the Ecosystem. 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. Thus, the sea otter is one of the very few mammals to make an effective use of tools (t… Although, their whiskers are robust and thick like their seal and sea lion counterparts, they never traded their front paws for flippers. 8 Top Predators of Sea Otters that Eat Sea Otter. River otters and giant otters hunt by using their vibrissae to detect movements of prey in the water. The primary diet of sea otters consists of aquatic invertebrates including crustaceans, sea urchins, mollusks and fish. Sea otters are such voracious eaters, West Coast crab and sea urchin fishermen have gone on record with concerns and cautions. However, in recent years, the population of sea otters has declined significantly courtesy of main sea otter predator, the bald eagle. On land they have to be careful about coyotes. Upon returning to the surface, they float on their backs, with the rock on the stomachs. Sea otters eat invertebrates such as sea urchis, clams, crabs, etc. Sea otters eat between 20-35% of their own body weight daily. A large male may consume as much as 11 kg (25 lb.)  In the Arctic, killer whales often dine on sea otters, while in the Californian coast, great white sharks consume many otters each year. A large proportion of this prey consists of filter-feeders, such as mussels and clams. ( Log Out /  In response, bald eagles have had to adjust their foraging tactics and look for prey elsewhere. Sea otters will eat virtually anything they can get their little paws on. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. They place their nests on shoreline sea stacks, coastal cliffs, and islets. of food daily. With incredibly high energy requirements, sea otters must consume approximately 25% of their bodyweight in prey each day just to stay alive. Sea otters eat sea urchins, abalone, mussels, clams, crabs, snails and other 40 marine species. Coyotes have a strong sense of smell and excellent vision. 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. Their own body weight daily, shark bites now account for over half of sea otters that eat hard-shelled! Otter predators was helpful otters along the Californian Coast has significantly decreased, raising concerns among conservationists pounds and the... Collect invertebrates and also a large male may consume as much as 11 kg ( 25 lb )... 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