Monterey County’s unofficial mascot and arguably most popular resident, the sea otter, can be found up and down the coast. Otters definitely have the “awww” factor going for them, but there is much more to them than just adorable looks. Did you know that…

  1. Sea otters have the densest fur of any animal on Earth! To give you an idea of just how fuzzy they are, sea otters have an estimated 1 million hairs per square inch on their bodies, while the average human has 100,000 hairs on their entire head.
  2. It was thought that fur trappers hunted sea otters to extinction, but a small group was discovered hidden down the coast of Big Sur in 1938. From those 50 otters, today’s Central Coast population has grown to around 3,000.
  3. In order to keep from drifting apart and floating away, sea otters are often seen sleeping while holding paws.
  4. Sea otters are considered a keystone species, which means that they have an essential role in keeping the Monterey Bay ecosystem balanced and healthy.
  5. In order to keep warm, sea otters have to keep their fur obsessively clean in order for it to retain air bubbles that are key in helping retain body heat. This makes them particularly vulnerable to oil spills, as dirty fur could lead to a potentially deadly case of hypothermia.
  6. To keep up with its fast metabolism, a sea otter has to eat about a quarter of its weight in food a day.
  7. Sea otters are one of the few mammals, other than primates, that are known to use tools. They will often use stones to pry snacks like abalone from rocks and to break open shellfish to feast on the meaty interior. 

How many of the 7 sea otter facts did you know? Perhaps this can serve as your excuse (as if you really need one) for planning a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

To see these critters in the wild, check out our list of the "Top Places to Spot Sea Otters in Monterey County.