Sea otter

Sea otter

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Credit: ART WOLFE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Sea otter (Enhydra lutris). This mammal is diurnal (active during the day) and feeds on a variety of sea animals, which it eats piece by piece while lying on its back. It is one of the few mammals known to use a tool: it uses rocks to crack open molluscs' shells. Sea otters live in shallow water along the north-east pacific. The sea otter differs from most marine mammals in that it lacks an insulating subcutaneous layer of fat. For protection against the cold water, it depends entirely on a layer of air trapped among its long, soft fibres of hair. If the hair becomes soiled, the insulating qualites are lost and the otter may die.

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Keywords: animal, aquatic, carnivore, enhydra lutris, head, horizontal, mammal, marine, mustelid, mustelids, nature, north pacific, sea otter, wildlife, zoology

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