869. Otters

If you’re lucky to spot an otter out in the waves, it’ll probably be eating, cracking open abalone, clams, snails, and mussels. But otters have to work to get these things to open. So they’ll usually pick up a rock on the sea floor and lying on their backs they smash the two together until the shellfish breaks open. Otters are the smallest sea mammals, weighing in at about 60 to 85 pounds. Now imagine this: Adult otters eat 15 per cent of their weight every day. When they aren’t eating, otters are either cleaning their thick fur coats or resting. They have to keep their coat clean and fluffy to stay warm because they have no body fat. When they sleep, otters will wrap themselves in kelp so they don’t drift out to sea. At one time, 20,000 otters lived in the waters here. But because they were hunted so aggressively for their luxurious fur, otters almost disappeared completely. And the threats to the otter population don’t end there! Large petroleum oil spills can instantaneously ruin their ocean habitat and destroy their fur coats, making it impossible for them to survive. Thankfully, otters are making a comeback and are now a protected species all along the central California coast.