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Marine Life

The ocean is an amazing place with hundreds of different types of animal species. Take a look at some of the popular marine life.


Otters are semi-aquatic mammals.

There are currently four species of otter, including the sea otter that are endangered, while three other otter species have a vulnerable status.

Otters Classification:

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora

Other Names: Certain otter species have a number of other names by which they are known. They include:

Sea Otter - Sea Cat, Lutra Felina
North American River Otter - Northern River Otter, Common Otter

Sub-species of Otters: There are approximately 13 species of otters.

Otter Species Include:

African Clawless Otter - Aonyx capensis
Asian Small-Clawed Otter - Aonyx cinereus
Congo Clawless Otter - Aonyx congicus
Sea Otter - Enhydra lutris
North American River Otter- Lontra canadensis
Marine Otter - Lontra felina
Neotropical Otter - Lontra longicaudis
South American River Otter - Lontra provocax
Eurasian Otter - Lutra lutra
Spotted-Necked Otter - Lutra maculicollis
Hairy-Nosed Otter - Lutra sumatrana
Smooth-Coated Otter - Lutrogale perspicillata
Giant Otter - Pteronura brasiliensis

Size: Otters are the smallest of all marine mammals in the world. The smallest otter is the Oriental Small-clawed Otters their body measures 12 - 24 inches and weighs 2.2-11.9 lbs. The largest otter is the South American Otter body measures 6 feet long. The otter's tail will generally make up about 40% of the their length. The heaviest otter is likely the sea otter weighing up to to 95 lbs.

Habitat: Otters are Africa, Asia, and parts of North America, Central America, and South America. Antarctica and Australia are the only two places in the world where otters are not found. Sea otters are found in the Pacific Ocean, but most otter species live in rivers, lakes, and marshes. Otters prefer to live in bodies of water that are close to land offering them wetlands or the woods close by. Otters are often found in swamp and marsh areas because it gives them good opportunities to avoid predators. Otters are protective of their land habitat but they are not territorial in the water.

Otters in Other Languages:

Albanian: Lunderz
Czech: Vydra
Danish: Odder
Dutch: Otter /Otterbont
Estonian: Saarmas
Finnish: Saukko
French: Loutre
Gaelic: Dobhar-chu / Madadh Donn / Dobhran
Galician: Lontra / Londra
German: Otter
Hungarian: Vidra
Icelandic: Otur
Indonesian: Linsang
Irish: Dobharchu / Madra Uisce / Dobhran / Dobhrain
Italian: Lontra
Latvian: Udrs
Malay: Memerang
Navajo: Tabaastiin
Norwegian: Oter
Old English: Oter
Old Irish: Doburchu
Polish: Wydra
Portuguese: Lontra
Romanian: Lutra / Vidra
Sardinian: Lontra
Slovak: Vydra
Slovenian: Vidra
Spanish: Nutria / Lutria
Swedish: Utter
Turkish: Su Samuru / Lutr
Welsh: Dyfrgi

Diet: An otters diet varies by species.The European and African clawless otter, hunt fish, octopus, frogs and other aquatic prey. While the sea otter, stick to shellfish. To crack open hard abalone shells, the inventive sea otter floats on its back and hits the shell on a rock that it balances on its belly. Otters eat from 15% to 25% of their body weight each day. Otters can spend as much as 5 hours a day eating.

Senses: Otters have a keen sense of smell.

Description: Otters have long streamlined bodies, short legs with webbed feet and non-retractable claws. Otters have dense, two layer coat of dark brown fur. The outer fur layer is waterproof. Otters are said to have the thickest fur of all animals, with at least 250,000 hairs per square inch. Some otters species have up to 1 million hairs per square inch!

Communication: Otters are very chatty, and seem to communicate through series of sounds that include clicks, screams, chirps, and squeals. They communicate using touch as well. They will also mark their territory with their scent (feces).

Did You Know?

Otters are closely related to weasels, polecats and badgers.

Gestation: Otters carry their young 2-5 months depending on the species.

Birth: Otters give live birth to their offspring, and the young nurse from their mothers. Most otter species will have litters with 2-5 pups. There is a high mortality rate and it is unusual for more than one pup to survive.

Did You Know?

In some Native American cultures, otters are considered totem animals.

Pups: Most otter pups stay with their mother for the first year of their life.

Sexual Maturity: Otters sexually mature between the ages of 3-6. Males seek out females when it is time to mate.

Did You Know?

Sea Otters use "tools " to open the hard abalone shells, that are staples of their diet. The sea otter floats on its back and hits the shell on a rock that it balances on its belly.

Life Span: Otters have a life span of 15 to 20 years.

Social Structure: Otters are very social animals. They are extremely playful and entertaining to watch. They often spend a lot of time grooming. Some otters live in very large groups, while others are solitary or live with only one or two others. It depends on the species of Otter as well as where they are located.

Unusual: Male Otters are called meowters, females are queens, and the offspring are pups.


Sea Otter

Conservation Status: 7 of the 13 species of otters are classified as endangered or vulnerable.

River Otter


Sea Otter

River Otter

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