Sea otters

Meet our northern sea otters:
Adaa and Mishka

Say hello to our otters: male Adaa and female Mishka. Below are some quick facts on these charming, outgoing, intelligent mammals. Come meet them in person on your next visit to the Aquarium!

Sea otters floating on their backs

Home, sweet home

In the wild, most northern sea otters live in rocky coastal habitats near points of land where some of the areas are protected from wind and waves. In the world of sea otter real estate, a nearby kelp bed is an added bonus!

Two wild sea otters in the ocean

Making a (slow) comeback

Hundreds of thousands of sea otters once lived along most of the coastal North Pacific. That was before fur traders hunted them for their thick, luxurious pelts in the late 1800s. By the year 1900, sea otters were nearly extinct: less than 2,000 remained. The international Fur Seal Treaty of 1911 stopped further exploitation of sea otters, as did the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act. Their numbers are now on the rise, but nowhere near their previous levels.


Wanna hold hands?

In the wild, sea otters sometimes “hold hands”—or, more accurately, paws—while sleeping so they don’t drift away from their raft (the term for a group of resting sea otters). While charming to think about, this paw holding doesn’t actually happen that frequently. Large rafts of sea otters in the wild are more likely to stay together by watching each other, listening for each other, and casual body contact—then adjusting movements of their tails and rear flippers to maintain proximity. Paw holding is most likely a learned behavior specific to certain individual sea otters, who may find it comforting! Awwww.


Sea otter FAQs
Are you from around here?
What's with all the grooming?
Who’s who? Sea otters vs. river otters
Adaa the sea otter
Mishka the sea otter
Looking for more information? 

Other Mammals