An otter on its back

Photo: Douglas Croft

Creature Feature Sea Otter

You Otter Love Them

Sea otters are totally pawsome! These fluffy marine mammals can be found in several of your national marine sanctuaries on the West Coast, including Olympic Coast, Monterey Bay, and Greater Farallones. Their population was drastically reduced in the 18th and 19th centuries due to hunting, but sea otters’ numbers are now on the rise. In Washington, they were completely extinct until 59 otters were reintroduced from Alaska in 1969 and 1970. Now, more than 2,000 live in the waters in and around the Olympic Coast!

A mother sea otter and her pup
Photo: Douglas Croft
A sea otter eating a crab
Photo: Jenni Peters

Fun Facts

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Enhydra lutris

DIET: Invertebrates (sea urchins, lobster, abalone, clams, etc.)

AVERAGE SIZE: 4-5 feet

AVERAGE WEIGHT: 70-100 pounds

LIFE SPAN: 15-20 years



HAIRS PER INCH: >1 million

LOCATION: Coastal waters of Japan, Aleutian Islands, Gulf of Alaska, Pacific coast of North America to Baja California

Unlike other marine mammals, sea otters don’t have a thick layer of blubber to keep them warm. Instead, they rely on thick, waterproof fur. They spend much of their time grooming this fur to keep it in tip-top shape.

A map highilighting the habitat of sea otters