The life of the sea otter

Story and photography by Frank Toller

These marine mammals live mostly on the North Pacific coast and typically weigh between 31 and 99 pounds. They are able to live their entire life in the water, in part because of a massive fur coat, the densest in the animal world. They feed on invertebrates such as sea urchins, clams, crab, and abalone as well as octopus and some species of fish. The otters will use rocks to scrape their prey and open shells, making them unique among marine mammals as tool users.

The sea otter population has risen from 1,000 to 2,000 years ago to 100,000 now. © Frank Toller

The sea otter population has risen from 1,000 to 2,000 years ago to 100,000 now. © Frank Toller

They can go onshore and occasionally will do so. The otters are very friendly and while taking these pictures on Jetty Road at Moss Landing, California [55 miles south of San Jose on the coast], I observed the animals allowing children to approach within six feet. The kids and pups seemed equally curious about each other. Continue reading