Otters are such fun to watch. They are playful and cute and a joy to observe. Ucluelet has two types of otters: river otters and sea otters. The otter above is a river otter and the otter in the slideshow below amongst the kelp beds is Ollie, a sea otter.
Sea otters have been re-introduced to the West Coast here: they were hunted for their fur (the densest of any animal) and luckily we seem to have realized that is not a good thing. Much better to have them living and frolicking in our waters. Sea otters use tools (rocks) to open shells and dislodge food within and they control the sea urchin population which otherwise damage delicate ocean kelp forest ecosystems. How big are sea otters? Big! Sea otters are the heaviest of the weasel family weighing in at 30-100 pounds. Adult sea otters tend to forage alone but relax together with their gender type in groups called rafts. Rafts usually top out at 100 otters but a raft of 2,000 otters has been documented. Another thing they do to stop drifting when hanging or eating is to wrap themselves in kelp. Smart.
River otters are semi-aquatic and tip the scales at 11-30 pounds making them smaller than they sea sisters. While the sea otters prefer to be in water, the river otters groove along between land and water equally well. River otters are very social and families are comprised of a female and her offspring Males bond quite well with other males creating social groups that get along quite well, even during mating season males tend to hang out together and don't get into the macho thing. They also seem to welcome other males into their territory to share resources and are not territorial - what a concept. River otters are also quite well known for their sense of play - especially the younger ones - chasing and wrestling until Mom catches some food to eat. Sounds like a pretty cool scene - perhaps humans could learn a lot from river otters.
No wonder everyone loves otters!
Ollie the otter was photographed by Archipelago Wildlife Cruises for our otter photo slideshow below.
The otters on the dock photographs are courtesy of Tofino Photography.
Click on any image to open the slide show.