Southern Sea Otter

Southern Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) as seen in our Sea Otters exhibit.

Southern Sea Otters once filled the waters off the Oregon coast, but due to the popularity of their fur for human clothing, they were hunted to extinction in the state by the early twentieth century. Now, the only indigenous population of Southern Sea Otters resides along the coast of central California. Like their Northern Sea Otter cousins, these mammals prefer to spend their day around the massive kelp forests located just offshore. These underwater gardens are filled with the otter’s prey, including sea urchins, clams, crabs and abalone. Despite the abundance of food in the kelp forest, the otter still has to work for its living. The otters may have to dive over three hundred feet to reach their food while simultaneously keeping an eye open for the sharks and Orcas who also prowl these habitats. Although there are concerted efforts to expand the North American population of otters, reintroduction into new areas has been difficult due to scarcity of habitat and a low birth rate. At the Aquarium, we have one Southern Sea Otter named Judge. 

Range & Habitat

Historically, all along the west coast of North America up to Washington state. Currently, along the central California coast. 

Conservational Status