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Sea otter

Did you know?

Enhydra lutris

Otters love to play and extremely dexterous – they can use their paws to open clam shells and explore objects. Some can even stack cups!

Come sea otters!

Habitat
Wild and Zoo
Sea otters live in rocky coastal areas in shallow waters off Alaska, the Aleutian and Commander Islands, Vancouver Island, Washington and California. Find our otters at Rocky Shores.
Rocky Shores
Meet the keepers.
(They get wet too.)
Our keepers give chats daily. Bring all your questions!
Zookeeper Life: Stephanie

Meet our otters

Libby
Sekiu
Moea
Eating
(and predators!)
Sea otters eat all kinds of seafood. But by eating sea urchins, they’re vital to protecting kelp forests that would otherwise be consumed by urchins.
Their main predators are sharks, orcas, eagles, coyotes and humans.
All wrapped up
in kelp.
After a 6-month pregnancy, females give birth to one pup every other year.
They will care for the pup from 6-9 months, wrapping it in kelp to keep it from drifting away.
Grooming
(it's furry hard work)
Sea otters are very social! They live in groups of up to 100 (called “rafts”), in which males and females mostly live separately.
Otters spend their day resting, searching for food or grooming their fur to keep it waterproof – it is the densest fur of any mammal, with up to 1 million hairs per square inch.

Protecting sea otters

I need my fur!

THE THREAT: Sea otters are endangered, having been hunted nearly to extinction for their thick fur. Now protected, they are still at great risk from oil spills and parasites that reach the ocean via storm drains.

TAKE ACTION: Protect all sea animals by supporting clean energy, choosing sustainable seafood and reducing the amount of plastic you use.

Marine Stories

Rio & Max, Penguin Buddies

What’s the best way to take your first swim? Well, if you’re a hand-reared penguin chick, you find a penguin buddy. On a hot day in August, penguin chick Rio had his first swim session in a behind-the-scenes pool at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium – and his buddy was big sister penguin Maxine … Continued

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Animal Athletes

Human athletes might be battling it out for medals at the Olympic Games in Japan this month, but here at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, we have our own incredible athletes to celebrate: our animals! Who can leap the furthest? Climb the highest? Who’s the fastest swimmer, the cleanest diver, the most agile? Check out … Continued

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Double Exposed

Zookeepers and the animals they love What’s the animal you feel most deeply inside? The one you connect with, love, relate to, share traits with? For National Zookeeper Week 2021, we asked our assistant curators that very same question. Then our incredible staff photographer Katie Cotterill took portraits of both keeper AND animal, superimposing them … Continued

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Who's Nearby?
Think our otters are adorable? Meet our puffins and murres, sea birds that live just opposite in the Rocky Shores habitat.