Near-shore habitats with rocky, muddy or sand sea bottoms/North Pacific from Baja California through Gulf of Alaska to Japan
3.9 – 4.9 ft. (Male), 3.3 – 4.6 ft. (Female)
All the sea otters living at the Vancouver Aquarium were rescued as orphaned pups. They have all been deemed non-releasable by Canadian and U.S. government agencies because they were all too young at rescue to have the necessary life skills to survive on their own in the wild.
More than just cute and fluffy – they're also superheroes of the sea! Meet the Northern Sea Otter, the keystone species that plays a vital role in protecting the kelp forest ecosystems along the Pacific coast. These adorable creatures have a crucial mission: keeping sea urchin populations in check. Sea urchins are a favourite snack for otters, but without enough otters around, the urchin population can explode and devastate the kelp forests. Thankfully, since the reintroduction of these lovable animals to B.C.'s outer coast, urchin populations have balanced out, allowing the kelp forests to make a triumphant comeback.
Hailing from the coastal waters of the northern Pacific Ocean, Northern Sea Otters are known for their luxuriously thick fur. Their fur, consisting of an inner layer of dense underfur and an outer layer of longer guard hairs, acts like a makeshift wetsuit to keep them cozy and buoyant in chilly waters. These adorable furballs have the densest fur of any mammal, boasting up to a million hairs per square inch!
To keep their dense fur looking fabulous, they maintain a unique grooming routine. Unlike other marine mammals that rely on their tongues to clean themselves, Northern Sea Otters rely on their nimble forepaws to wash their fur. They even blow air into their fur to create an insulating layer of air bubbles.
Northern Sea Otters are the largest species of otter, eating about 20-25% of their body weight in food each day, aided by their built-in fanny packs! They have nifty pouches of loose skin under their forearms that they use to store their favourite snacks – and treasured rock collections – while swimming.
Northern Sea Otters are incredibly social animals that love to form rafts, where groups of otters float together, tightly holding paws. These rafts provide not only companionship but also protection, creating a heart-warming display of unity in the vast ocean. It's an otterly adorable sight!
Conservation efforts have played a pivotal role in safeguarding the Northern Sea Otter. Thanks to habitat protection and pollution reduction initiatives, their population, once severely threatened by extensive hunting, is gradually rebounding. While they may resemble cuddly teddy bears, it's important to remember that Northern Sea Otters are wild animals that need our support to thrive.
The rescued sea otters at the Vancouver Aquarium have gained an enormous online following for their adorable antics and playful personalities. Don’t miss the chance to see them in person at our Sea Otters exhibit or watch them playing, zooming, and grooming on our beloved Otter Cam from the comfort of your own home.
All of the otters here at the Vancouver Aquarium were rescued after being orphaned. Thanks to countless hours of care by our Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Team and support from people like you, their lives were saved.
Now, you can play a part in this heartwarming story. Your adoption directly supports the lifesaving work of the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Society.