This week many of us have been participating in Sea Otter Awareness Week, a seven-day celebration of one of the world’s most charismatic marine mammals, and certainly the hairiest (up to 1,000,000 hairs per square inch!). Sea otters play an important role in maintaining a healthy, productive ecosystem. As a keystone species in the kelp forests of the west coast, their taste for sea urchins helps to support the entire kelp forest itself: with the urchin population maintained, the kelp holdfasts that the spiky little echinoderms like to munch on are much safer, and the dense underwater forest can continue to both be a home for thousands of other animals and remove CO2 from our atmosphere.
As part of SOAW, zoos and aquariums (and many, many other facilities and individuals) across the country come together to raise public awareness of this vital species through educational presentations, activities, crafts, screenings, demonstrations… if it’s sea otter related and you can think of it, it’s probably happening somewhere. There’s a great list of organisations taking part in this year’s events right here – there’s still one day left to go, so you can still make it to a celebration near you!
I created a sea otter colouring page for Georgia Aquarium this year. I wanted to include several aspects of a sea otter’s life – resting at the surface with a pup, foraging for delicious invertebrates, being generally hairy – and it was a lot of fun to shake up my style a bit and do something much more simplified. I hope any little ones who’ve had the chance to colour it have enjoyed it too! You can download it as a .PDF from the website under the “Activities” link and share the sea otter love. And remember that sea otters, like all animals, are important every week of the year, not just the last one in September!