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Sea Otter - Enhydra lutris
Photo by Howard Hall

The California sea otter belongs to the family called mustelidae, and is related to land mammals such as the weasel, mink, and badger. Otters are most often seen foraging and playing near kelp beds off the central coast of California. This near shore environment provides the food and safety needed for the sea otter to survive in the wild. Historically, these animals were abundant; however, as a result of fur trappers their population has been dramatically reduced in both numbers and range.

Sea Otter
(Enhydra lutris)

Northern and central coast regions of California.

Near shore coastal regions that contain large kelp forest.

Crab, abalone, and sea urchins, other echinoderms and mollusks.


The status of this species is representative of the populations within the waters of this Sanctuary only, not global populations.

Quick Fact
Sea otters are known for their grooming behavior, which is essential for keeping their thick insulating coat of soft fur clean.

Learn More
- Monterey Bay Aquarium
- State of Alaska