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Sea Otter : Diet

Enhydra Lutris

Cockles and mussels alive, alive-o

Sea otters eat shellfish almost exclusively, which is why they have big molar teeth for scrunching. Because they live in cold sea-water all their lives they have to eat an awful lot to keep their bodies warm, even more so than other otters.

Even though shellfish can't usually escape, sea otters are excellent swimmers. They are superb divers, too. One sea otter was recorded diving to 100 metres, another diving for five minutes at a time!

Knife and fork

Sea otters have developed a lot of clever techniques for getting into tasty shellfish. When they bring up a crab, they crunch off all its legs and claws first, to make sure they don't get nipped. To get abalone (big, strong snails) off of the rocks they smash them with stones until they let go. And when an otter needs to get into a large clam, they bring it to the surface with a flat rock. The otter lies on its back, the rock goes on the otter's tummy, and then it whacks the clam on the rock again and again until it pops open.

What'd eat an otter?

Sea otters themselves have natural predators. Sharks, killer whales and bears will all grab an otter if they can, and there are even reports of bald eagles swooping on little'uns.

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