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Enhydra lutris - Sea Otter
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Taxonomy/Classification
Scientific Name: Enhydra lutris
Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
English Common Name: Sea Otter
Spanish Common Name(s): None Known
Portuguese Common Name(s): None Known

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Class Order Family
Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae

Taxonomic Comments: See Wilson et al. (1991) for a review of taxonomic history. There has been some disagreement as to whether the recognition of subspecies is warranted. A recent range-wide review of geographic variation of skull characters concluded that three subspecies should be recognized (lutris, nereis, and the newly described kenyoni) (Wilson et al. 1991). Subspecies nereis appears to have monophyletic mtDNA, but lutris and kenyoni do not (Cronin et al. 1996). The low level of divergence of sequences of haplotypes on mtDNA suggests that there are no major phylogenetic breaks or long-term barriers to gene flow among sea otter populations (Cronin et al. 1996).

Lidicker and McCollum (1997) examined allozyme variation and found that despite historical population depletion, otters from California have suffered only a small loss in genetic variability. MtDNA data also indiciate that population bottlenecks probably did not result in major losses of genetic variation in individual populations or the species as a whole (Cronin et al. 1996). However, based on microstatellite DNA and mtDNA, Larson et al. (2002) reported that the levels of genetic diversity observed within sea otter populations were relatively low when compared with other mammals and mayy be the result of fur trade exploitation.

Global Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Category: EN - Endangered  
CITES Status: Appendix II
General Status Comments: CITES_COM: Subspecies nereis (Southern Sea Otter) is listed in Appendix I.

Habitat
Coastal waters usually within 2 km of shore, especially shallows with kelp beds and abundant shellfish. In rough weather, takes refuge among kelp, or in coves and inlets. Often comes ashore in Alaska, rarely does so in California. In California, juvenile males spend little time in near-shore kelp beds; often remain far offshore (Siniff and Ralls (1988). In California, young are born in the water or on land; births may usually occur ashore in Alaska.
Population Status

Distribution Status in Latin America

Extirpated Mexico

References

  • Bodkin, J. L., D. Mulcahy, and C. J. Lensink. 1993. Age-specific reproduction in female sea otters (ENHYDRA LUTRIS) from south-central Alaska: analysis of reproductive tracts. Can. J. Zool. 71:1811-1815.

  • Brody, A. J., K. Ralls, and D. B. Siniff. 1996. Potential impact of oil spills on California sea otters: implications of the EXXON VALDEZ spill in Alaska. Marine Mammal Science 12:38-53.

  • Cronin, M. A., J. Bodkin, B. Ballachey, J. Estes, and J. C. Patton. 1996. Mitochondrial-DNA variation among subspecies and populations of sea otters (ENHYDRA LUTRIS). Journal of Mammalogy 77:546-557.

  • DeGrange, A. R., and M. M. Vacca. 1989. Sea otter mortality at Kodiak Island, Alaska, during summer 1987. J. Mamm. 70:836-838.

  • Doroff, A. M., J. A. Estes, M. T. Tinker, D. M. Burn, and T. J. Evans. 2003. Sea otter population declines in the Aleutian archipelago. Journal of Mammalogy 84:55-64.

  • Estes, J. A. 1990. Growth and equilibrium in sea otter populations. J. Animal Ecology 59:385-401.

  • Estes, J. A. 1990. Indices used to assess status of sea otter populations: a reply. J. Wildlife Management 54:270-272.

  • Estes, J. A., D. O. Duggins, and G. B. Rathbun. 1989. The ecology of extinctions in kelp forest communities. Conservation Biology 3:252-264.

  • Estes, J.A. 1980. ENHYDRA LUTRIS. Mammalian Species, 133:1- 8.

  • Gallo-Reynoso, J.-P., and G. B. Rathbun. 1997. Status of sea otters (ENHYDRA LUTRIS) in Mexico. Marine Mammal Science 13:332-340.

  • Garshelis, D. L., et al. 1990. Indices used to assess status of sea otter populations: a comment. J. Wildlife Management 54:260-269.

  • Jones, J. K., Jr., R. S. Hoffman, D. W. Rice, C. Jones, R. J. Baker, and M. D. Engstrom. 1992. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 1991. Occasional Papers, The Museum, Texas Tech University, 146:1-23.

  • Kenyon, K. W. 1969. The sea otter in the eastern Pacific Ocean. North Am. Fauna 68:1-352.

  • Kenyon, K. W. 1982. Sea otter. Pages 704-710 in Chapman, J. A., and G. A. Feldhammer, editors. Wild mammals of NorthAmerica. Biology, management, and economics. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore.

  • Larson, S., R. Jameson, J. Bodkin, M. Staedler, and P. Bentzen. 2002. Microsatellite DNA and mitochondrial DNA variation in remnant and translocated sea otter (Enhydra lutris) populations. Journal of Mammalogy 83:893-906.

  • Lidicker, W. Z., Jr., and F. C. McCollum. 1997. Allozymic variation in California sea otters. Journal of Mammalogy 78:417-425.

  • Matthews, J.R. and C.J. Moseley (eds.). 1990. The Official World Wildlife Fund Guide to Endangered Species of North America. Volume 1. Plants, Mammals. xxiii + pp 1-560 + 33 pp. appendix + 6 pp. glossary + 16 pp. index. Volume 2. Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Fishes, Mussels, Crustaceans, Snails, Insects, and Arachnids. xiii + pp. 561-1180. Beacham Publications, Inc., Washington, D.C.

  • Monson, D. H., and A. R. DeGange. 1995. Reproduction, preweaning survival, and survival of adult sea otters at Kodiak Island, Alaska. Canadian Journal of Zoology 73:1161-1169.

  • Payne, S. F., and R. J. Jameson. 1984. Early behavioral development of the sea otter, Enhydra lutris. J. Mammalogy 65: 527-531.

  • Ralls, K., T. C. Eagle, and D. B. Siniff. 1996. Movement and spatial use patterns of California sea otters. Canadian Journal of Zoology 74:1841-1849.

  • Raloff, J. 1993. An otter tragedy. Science News 143:200-202.

  • Reeves, R. R., B. S. Stewart, and S. Leatherwood. 1992. The Sierra Club Handbook of Seals and Sirenians. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, California. xvi + 359 pp.

  • Ridgway, S. H., and R. Harrison. 1981. Handbook of marine mammals. Vol. 1. The walrus, sea lions, fur seals and sea otter. Academic Press, New York. 235 pp.

  • Riedman, M. 1990. Sea otters. Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California. 80 pp.

  • Riedman, M. 1990. The Pinnipeds: Seals, Sea Lions and Walruses. University of California Press, Berkeley, California. xxiii + 439 pp.

  • Riedman, M. L., and J. A. Estes. 1990. The sea otter (ENHYDRA LUTRIS): behavior, ecology, and natural history. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Report 90(14). 126 pp.

  • Siniff, D. B., and K. Ralls, eds. 1988. Final report on contract 14-12-001-3003, Population status of California sea otters. U.S. Dept. of Interior, Minerals Management Service, Los Angeles, CA.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2000. Notice of designation of the Northern Sea Otter in the Aleutian Islands as a candidate species. Federal Register 65:67343-67345.

  • Watson, J. C., G. M. Ellis, T. G. Smith, and J.K.B. Ford. 1997. Updated status of the sea otter, ENHYDRA LUTRIS, in Canada. Canadian Field-Naturalist 111:277-286.

  • Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal Species of the World: a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Second Edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.

  • Wilson, D. E., et al. 1991. Geographic variation in sea otters, ENHYDRA LUTRIS. J. Mammalogy 72:22-36.


Summary Text | Overview Map | West Caribbean Map  | East Caribbean Map | Range Map


Overview Map
Note: indicates countries of occurrence, actual area occupied by the species is usually much less.

Summary Text |  Overview Map | West Caribbean Map  | East Caribbean Map | Range Map

West Caribbean Map
Species not known to occur in this region.

Summary Text |  Overview Map | West Caribbean Map  | East Caribbean Map | Range Map

East Caribbean Map
Species not known to occur in this region.

Summary Text |  Overview Map |  West Caribbean Map  |  East Caribbean Map |  Range Map

Range Map
No map available.

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