Sea otter floating on its back with its back feet sticking up.

Warm and cozy, I bet. (Click on images to enlarge.)

With another Arctic front heading our way, I find myself thinking about sea otters – specifically, how well suited (literally) they are for winter.

Their incredibly thick, waterproof coats must be cozy even on unseasonably chilly days. Sea otters have the densest fur of any animal on earth, which is why they were hunted almost to extinction by the early 20th century.

Their smaller cousins, river otters, are common throughout our region and I see them often, both on land and in the sea. But it’s only been in the last few years, and further north, that I’ve had the privilege of seeing sea otters – thankfully returning from the brink to repopulate some of the inside waters along the BC coast.

These impossibly cute members of the weasel family live their whole lives in the sea, almost never venturing onto land. We’ve encountered small families and groups far from shore when we’ve been cruising up Queen Charlotte Strait, in water over 1000 feet deep.

Sea otter popping up to look at the viewer, with kelp bed behindOnce a sea otter (left) delighted us by popping up repeatedly to have a close look when we were kayaking close to shore. Luckily it was one of those rare days that I had my dSLR with its zoom lens along with me in the kayak.

Last summer another one popped up unexpectedly when we were in just 16 feet of water – hardly a usual haunt for these deep divemasters! He/she stuck around for a few minutes, chowing down on lunch. Having only my phone that day, I wasn’t able to get a photo worth sharing. No matter: the memory of the experience still brings me a warm smile, even on a cold winter’s day.

About Laurie MacBride, Eye on Environment

Photographer focused on nature and nautical on the BC coast

3 responses »

  1. Fred Bailey says:

    More great shots Laurie. You know you’re getting somewhere when you start to see these wonderful characters.

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