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  • Otters are cute, curious, playful, cute, intelligent, fluffy, and did I mention cute? But they're

  • more than just adorable animals, otters are the cornerstone of one very important ecosystem.

  • Otters are gardeners of the kelp forest. Their diet consists mainly of marine invertebrates

  • like sea urchins and abalone, which feed on kelp. Too many urchins means less kelp, and

  • that kelp provides food and shelter for hundreds of species.

  • Otters were nearly hunted to extinction before the 20th century, and the loss of kelp forests

  • threatened Pacific coastal ecosystems from Japan to Mexico. Thanks to decades of conservation

  • work, otter populations once as low as 50 individuals have recovered into the thousands.

  • Hannah, you have one of the coolest jobs at the aquarium I think.

  • I totally agree with you, I actually am a sea otter aquarist, is my official title.

  • But what that pretty much means is I take care of anything to do with the sea otters

  • at the aquarium.

  • And they pay you to do that?

  • I get an actual paycheck, I still can't believe it to be honest.

  • If you ever need an assistant, this guy!

  • Otters love to eat, consuming up to a quarter of their body weight in seafood every day,

  • because unlike other marine mammals, otters don't have blubber. They depend on their turbocharged

  • metabolism to keep warm.

  • So with our animals that are here in the exhibit, we feed them at least five times a day, with

  • added little snacks here and there. An otter can actually cost up to $16,000 just for food,

  • for one year, for one otter. They're very expensive to keep, actually.

  • But we're not allowed to give them shell on exhibit, because they will go and use that

  • natural behavior and go and pound it on the window, so we'll freeze some shrimp, which

  • is one of their favorite foods, in ice. They'll go over to the window, they'll pound it on

  • the window in order to get that food out.

  • They live in very very cold water, they don't have blubber like the seals and sea lions

  • do, they actually have this very, very thick coat.

  • On certain parts of their body they can have up to a million hairs per square inch.

  • So that's as much as we have on our entire head, they'll have in a square inch. You can

  • imagine it actually does create a lot of insulation for them.

  • Do these otters live here permanently?

  • Yeah, so the animals that are actually in the exhibit right now will always stay with

  • us in the exhibit setting. They all came to us as pups, they got separated

  • from mom somehow, they kind of didn't have another option.

  • But they play a very important role. Right now one of our exhibit animals is behind the

  • scenes and she's actually raising a pup right now, to then be released.

  • Historically, going back into the 80's and 90's we had a really difficult time successfully

  • rehabilitating and releasing stranded orphan sea otter pups.

  • We were able to keep them alive but when we released them they were too habituated to

  • people, and the main reason was because we were using humans as essentially the maternal

  • role model for these pups. In 2001, we began to experiment with the idea

  • of actually instead of humans, using female sea otters in that same role, as surrogates.

  • These aren't their pups, they didn't give birth to them, but they do adopt them as their

  • own?

  • Yeah, I mean this is really extraordinary. Initially the female will grab the pup and

  • put it on her chest and it may start towing it around, that'll progress into grooming

  • the pup. A critical behavior that we see frequently

  • is food sharing, so while the female is foraging she'll come back up to the surface and actually

  • pass food to the pup.

  • What we're doing is taking advantage of the innate maternal behavior of our exhibit female

  • sea otters. We have an orphaned sea otter who needs to learn the life skills necessary

  • to be a sea otter, and specifically we're looking for her teaching it how to groom properly,

  • also how to pick up food, how to get access to food inside of a hard shell, all those

  • life skills that are necessary, and then go out into the big blue and survive out there

  • in the real world.

  • We just looked at a really interesting animal, what was happening back there in that room?

  • That animal is 696, he came in as an orphaned pup and as given to one of our exhibit females

  • who raised it as a surrogate. Today was a very stressful day for the little

  • guy, it was weaning day, so we sedated him so we could do a really thorough physical

  • examination, make sure he's as healthy as he looks!

  • 44.5, canine 6.8… 6.9.

  • This is pretty cool.

  • We look at the blood, we take a pretty robust blood sample, we also pull a couple of whiskers

  • to evaluate their stable isotopes. We pull some fur, we may look at that for

  • stress hormones down the road, and then a very large sample that just goes into the

  • library should there be a researcher in another 3, 5, 10 years who's interested in sea otters

  • in 2015 we've got some samples held back.

  • This is the softest thing I've ever felt in my life. You are adorable.

  • This is one of the few exposed areas where they're not covered in this dense fur, and

  • it's just so warm, you can feel the heat coming off of their feet.

  • This is amazing!

  • So, is that a healthy otter?

  • It's too early to tell, but I don't see anything to suggest otherwise.

  • The guy that we were working on today ultimately is gonna be released back to the wild. T

  • he only time we're handling the animals is actually when we're netting them and then

  • separating mother and do very brief health checks on the pup, so during that process

  • we wear latex gloves, hoods and capes to mask our human form and scent.

  • So it's really important that they don't get used to people because these are wild animals

  • and when they get back out in the wild we want them to stay that way.

  • Exactly, we don't want them to like us. We don't want them to associate food with us,

  • there's no advantage to liking people if you're out there in the wild as a sea otter.

  • So this otter is on its way to learning how to continue to be a wild animal and we hope

  • one day get released back into the wild. Good luck!

  • 696's journey is far from over and like otters everywhere his future is still uncertain.

  • I've learned their population won't be saved one fuzzy face at a time, but he knowledge

  • gained by these hard-working scientists will give an entire ecosystem a better tomorrow.

  • I hope you've learned more about these otterly adorable creatures. Stay curious!

Otters are cute, curious, playful, cute, intelligent, fluffy, and did I mention cute? But they're

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ウミカワウソの愛らしい養子縁組ストーリー (A Sea Otter's Adorable Adoption Story)

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    iris に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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