Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Northern Sea Otter - Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

There are three subspecies of sea otter: (a) the common sea otter, also known as the Asian, Commander or Kuril sea otter, found in the Western Pacific; (b) the Southern sea otter, also known as the California sea otter, found along the coast of central California; and (c) the Northern sea otter found in Alaska and along the Pacific west coast to Northern Oregon. 

On our trip to Alaska we saw Northern sea otters on several occasions, but had two really good sightings in particular. The first was in Kachemak Bay, off the Homer Spit, near Gull Island. Two otters were near each other, one wrapped in kelp. 
Sea otter near Gull Island. That face is about as cute as it gets.
There was some interaction between these two otters, but not as extensive or as rough as the other two otters we saw.
However, this otter's nose looks kind of scarred up, so I assume she is female and has been in some mating wars. 

I love the webbed hind feet with the outline of toes and dark marks indicating what I assume are toe nails. 
The other was in Resurrection Bay near the dock in Seward. I assumed they were mating. One was really going after the other in a fearful fashion, biting and rolling over in the water and going under. Wikipedia notes: "Mating takes place in the water and can be rough, the male biting the female on the muzzle - which often leaves scars on the nose - and sometimes holding her head under water." 
These otters were in Resurrection Bay. The guy on top shows some of the aggressiveness in the look in his face.

This one rolled over several times, giving a look at the back. We usually saw them floating face-up.
They are such a joy to watch, and so cute. 


  1. These are one animal that really look like their Beanie Baby counterparts, but I'll bet they are solid muscle. When I think of otters, I think of them in pairs, as we saw them. Such cute faces!

  2. How can such cute animals haves such an unromantic mating style???