The marine otter, scientific name Lontra felina is a rare and comparatively unknown South American mammal of the weasel family (Mustelidae). The scientific name means “otter cat”, and in Spanish, the marine otter can be also known as gato marino: “marine cat”. In this article, I am going to talk about Marine Otter size, range, habitat, facts, food chain, scientific name, vs sea otter, baby, adorable, etc.
Marine Otter Profile
The marine otter (whereas spending a lot of its outing of the water) solely lives in saltwater, coastal environments, and barely ventures into freshwater or estuarine habitats. This saltwater exclusivity is not like most different otter species, apart from the just about totally aquatic sea otter (Enhydra lutris) of the North Pacific.
Marine otters to not be mistaken with their North-American kin, the ocean otters, who’re about 10 instances larger than their Chilean cousins. As marine otters dwell solely alongside the coast of Chile (and a bit around Peru and Argentina) and blue whales frequently seen right here on our excursions too, that is the one place on this planet the place you possibly can observe the smallest and the largest marine mammals on the identical tour!
Not so much underwater footage is out there in regards to the marine otters, however, the BBC team proved this reality with a clip of their sequence Hunt: Race towards time (Coasts) episode.
Marine otters dwell alongside the Humboldt-current, which offers them plentiful meal assets, however has a very chill water-temperature. Some animals shield themselves from the chilly waters with blubber, a giant layer of fats (like whales and sea lions) whereas others use a thick fur towards it (like fur seals and marine otters).
The marine otter can have 50000-250000 hairs in a single cm²! Before they’re going for a dive, generally they roll in seaweed, attempting to faucet air between their fur to additional insulate themselves.
This is a bit of a little bit of an idea, and never a well-proven reality, however appears to be like that marine otter are monogamous and selected their fellow otter for a lifetime! It had been noticed, that each parent takes part in parental duties.
As it is vitally arduous to analyze their inhabitants, as a result of they like to cover between the rocks and dwell within the rougher elements of the coast, it’s nearly unattainable to offer the latest estimate of their numbers.
However what we all know, that they’ve been extensively hunted for his or her fur, which they largely used to make footwear and it nearly introduced marine otters to extinction.
A Chilean fur commerce report documented that between 1910-1954 about 38000 otter pelts have been exported. Luckily right at this moment looking at marine otters is prohibited by regulation each in Chile and Peru, however, their estimated quantity is simply few thousand.
In Chile, they’re largely referred to as chungungos what comes from the language of the mapuche people, mapudungun. Sometimes they’re additionally referred to as “gato del mar“, or sea cat due to their massive whiskers.
Lontra felina, in any other case, referred to as marine otters or sea cats, is the smallest and most distinctive species of the genus Lontra. The average total size of L. felina is 900 mm.
The coat is darkish on the back and on the edges, and paler ventrally. Marine otters have a brief tail and totally webbed feet. They even have massive vibrissae, stiff whisker-like hairs above the higher lip and on the corners of the mouth.
Marine otters are foraging predators that eat all kinds of prey. While they like invertebrates, together with crabs, clams, and different hard-shelled teams, they’re additionally recognized to eat some fishes, juvenile birds, and even different mammals.
They additionally scavenge for rubbish, bringing them into shut contact with people. Unlike many species of weasels, scientists consider the marine otter to be monogamous.
Mating, start, and nursing happens onshore, in protected dens. Adult marine otters are fairly small. They solely attain about 13 pounds (6 kg) vs. 100 pounds (45 kg) in sea otters.
Unlike most marine mammals that depend on a thick layer of blubber to insulate them from chilly ocean waters, marine otters depend on their extraordinarily thick fur.
Unfortunately, their fur additionally practically led to this species’ demise. Excessive looking lowered the numbers of marine otters considerably and now the species is endangered (extremely susceptible to extinction).
The geographic range can be constricted in comparison with pre-hunting instances, and it could nonetheless disappear from some locations, as poaching continues to be an issue.
Though the marine otter has full or partial authorized safety all through its range, it continues to indicate reducing populations. Without persevering with conservation measures and authorized safety, this charismatic species may very well be susceptible to being lost forever.
Marine otters, Lontra Felina , are discovered alongside the Pacific Coast from northern Peru south alongside the coast of Chile to the southern tip of South America. Lontra felina can be present in remoted populations in Argentina.
Marine Otter Description
The marine otter is among the smallest otters and the smallest marine mammal, measuring 87 to 115 cm (34 to 45 in) from the nostril to the tip of the tail and weighs Three to five kg (6.6 to 11.Zero lb).
The tail measures 30 to 36 cm (12 to 14 in). Its fur is coarse, with guard hairs measuring as much as 2 cm (0.79 in) in size protecting dense, insulating underfur. The marine otter is darkish brown above and on the edges, and fawn on the throat and underside.
The marine otter has webbed paws and robust claws. The ventral aspect (underside) of the paws is partially lined in fur. It has 36 teeth and a dental formulation of three.1.3-184.108.40.206.2. The teeth are developed for slicing as a substitute for crushing. The marine otter doesn’t display sexual dimorphism.
Marine otters are present in littoral areas of southwestern South America, nearshore, and within the intertidal areas of northern Peru (from the port of Chimbote), alongside the complete coast of Chile, and the intense southern reaches of Argentina. Occasional vagrant sightings nonetheless happen as far afield because of the Falkland Islands.
Marine Otter Habitat
Lontra felina is the one species of the genus Lontra that’s discovered solely in marine habitats. Generally, marine otters inhabit areas with sturdy winds, heavy seas, and a high range of rockfishes, mollusks, and crustaceans.
Lontra felina prefers to occupy areas with rocky outcroppings (typically with caves high above the water and tunnels connecting the land and water). This species spends most of its time within the water, however does use the rocky shore areas wherein it resides, particularly throughout the breeding season.
The marine otter primarily inhabits rocky shorelines with plentiful seaweed and kelp, and sometimes visits estuaries and freshwater rivers. It seems to pick habitats with surprisingly high publicity to sturdy swells and winds, not like many different otters, which desire calmer waters.
Caves and crevices within the rocky shorelines could present them with the cover they need, and infrequently a holt could have no land entry at high tide. Marine otters keep away from sandy seashores.
Little is thought in regards to the diet of marine otters, however, their major prey is believed to be crab, shrimp, mollusks, and fish. They additionally eat many sorts of crustaceans.
Marine Otter Behavior
Marine otters are most frequently seen individually or in small teams of as much as three. They are tough to identify, swimming low within the water, exposing solely their heads and backs.
It just isn’t recognized whether or not they’re territorial, as males are sometimes seen combating, but fights have additionally been noticed even between mating pairs.
Fighting takes place on distinguished rocks above the waterline, which is additionally used for resting, feeding, and grooming. Marine otters have additionally been noticed feeding cooperatively on massive fish, however, it’s not recognized how frequent the following is.
When not breeding, marine otters are largely solitary animals, When present in teams, the group size is seldom more than two to 3 people.
The activity of Marine Otter is usually diurnal, with peaks of exercise famous in the early morning, mid-afternoon, and evenings. Marine otters are a lot more agile within the water than on land. However, they’ve proved to be wonderful rock climbers.
When shifting within the water, Marine Otter leaves its body submerged, solely exposing its head and a few of its back above water. When trying to find prey, marine otters can dive to depths of 30 to 40 m. Often, Marine Otter is noticed floating on its back, sustaining its place with the tail.
This place permits marine otters to ingest prey objects even in high waves. Marine otters typically climb out of the water onto the rocky shore and interact in feeding, sunning, grooming, and taking part.
Most interactions between marine otters are amicable; nevertheless, adults and pairs could present intense aggression when combating over assets, similar to captured prey. These agonistic competitions typically contain lively combating and biting bleeding wounds, and high-pitched squeaking vocalizations.
Marine Otter Reproduction
Marine Otter is most definitely a monogamous species. Mating sometimes happens throughout December or January.
After a gestation interval of 60 to 65 days, parturition often happens from January to March. It takes place in a den or onshore between rocky outcroppings and vegetation. The litter size varies from two to 4 younger, with two being noticed most steadily.
Young marine otters stay with their parents for about ten months. Adults transport their younger by carrying them of their mouths or resting the younger on their bellies as they swim on their backs. Both adults within the monogamous pair deliver prey back to the den to feed their younger.
Marine otters could also be monogamous or polygamous, and breeding happens in December or January. Litters of two to 5 pups are born in January, February, or March after a gestation interval of 60 to 70 days.
The pups stay with their mom for about 10 months of parental care, and may generally be seen on the mom’s stomach as she swims on her back, a follow much like that of the ocean otter. Parents deliver meals to the pups and train them to hunt.
Marine otters are uncommon and are protected under Peruvian, Chilean, and Argentine regulations. In the previous, they have been extensively hunted each for his or her fur and as a consequence of perceived competitors with fisheries.
Hunting extirpated them from most of Argentina and the Falkland Islands. Poaching continues to be an issue, however one of unknown magnitude. It is unknown what number of marine otters exist within the wild or what habitats need to be preserved to encourage their restoration.
Marine otters have been listed beneath CITES Appendix I in 1976, and are listed as endangered by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Other recommended Reading
- Least Weasel | Mustela Nivalis | Lesser Weasel Facts
- Long-Tailed Weasel – Facts | Habitat | Size | Diet | Profile
- European Pine Marten – Profile | Facts | Diet | Habitat | Size
- Short-Tailed Weasel or Stoat Facts and Description
- Flying Squirrel – Profile | Description | Odors | Life Cycle | Diet
- Black Squirrel – Profile | Distribution | Habitat | Facts
- Red Squirrel | Cirrus vulgaris – Profile | Habitat | Facts | Food
- Gray Squirrel Communication | Habitat | Behavior
- Long-Tailed Chinchilla – Profile | Facts | Habitat | Diet | Predators
- Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger) – Profile | Facts | Description
- Ground Squirrel Overview, Facts, and Profile
- Tree Squirrel – Profile| Facts | Nest | Lifespan | Habitat | Sound
- How to Take Care of a Baby Squirrel – A to Z Guide
- Monotremes Mammals Facts and Description