Anyone know anything about otters?

I’m about to do a search, but thought I’d tap into the knowledge on this board too.

I’ve seen two otters in about the same place on the last three sunset trips I’ve taken out. Want to know more about them for my own curiosity and to share with my clients. You’d think with all of the books I own about the shoreline and the sea, one of them would have something about otters in it - But no luck.

I’m looking for info about the following: Differences between river and sea otters - trying to figure out which we’re seeing. How big do they get? What do they eat? How rare is it to see one along the coast of Maine? (This is my first sighting.) Any other interesting info?

Thanks for your help,


Cute little Critters
We have river otters down here in South Florida but some I have seen border fresh and saltwater very near the coast.

Im sure you can find info on the internet but quizzing a local marine biologist or professor might prove helpful. How about the keeper of the marine aquarium in Boston ??? just a thought.


There are 3 ,maybe 4 ,sub-species of

– Last Updated: Aug-03-04 1:04 PM EST –

sea otter. None of which are found on the East Coast. The various sea otter sub-species can be found across the Northern Pacifc from Northern Japan to Southern California. The biggest sub-species get up to about 100lbs. What you're seeing is the North American Otter. Which get to be about 25-30lbs for a large male and 3-4 feet in length. They've been making a come back for awhile now and it's fairly common to see them in my area which is only about 50 miles from NYC. They'll eat pretty much whatever they can get their hands on but mostly their diet consists of fish, frogs, crayfish, etc.---Rich

sea otters
Are Pacific basin critters. Their fur is the densest of any mammal – something like 100,000 hairs per square inch. They are not insulated with blubber, and they groom air into their fur to provide insulation. They also eat a stunning amount of food to provide warmth and energy – 20 to 25 percent of body weight daily. They are the most waterborne of the pinnipeds, even copulating at sea. Males hold onto females by biting their noses during copulation, and it’s common to see females with scabby noses. They employ tools – stones usually – to open shellfish.

They’re pretty darn cute.

That’s all I know. River otters aren’t my department.

Interesting Sea Otter Fact

– Last Updated: Aug-03-04 2:05 PM EST –

I am with Pax. I really don't know much about River Otters, but I know an interesting fact about California Sea Otters.

The Southern Pacific Sea Otter was thought to be extinct for many years, until they found a colony of about 50 living in a remote cove on the Big Sur Coast. All the Southern Sea Otters we see here are desendants of those 50 Otters.

Just goes to show how inaccessible most of the Big Sur coast is....I wonder what else might be down there?

Because the Sea Otter does not have a layer of blubber, they must dry out their fur after a long time in the water, or they will get hypothermia.

That is why is is such a bad thing to disturb them when they are on the surface drying out their fur. They will have to resurface and start all over again...

We have river otters here in the ICW
along the treasure coast. They can be very destructive little devils. They are quite adept at opening crab traps and pinfish traps. You want to be careful about any food storage, if you camp on any of the spoil islands. They compete successfully with the racoons for marine forage.

Otter or something like it
There were a couple of critters in the river I paddle last year. I was told they were otters. They would swim toward me using a synchronized swim routine. One was behind and to the right of the other. Their heads moved in unison and they were trying to tell me something. I think it had to do with “you and the big yellow thing you rode in on”.

I saw them a few times and then they disappeared. Someone said that they won’t tolerate humans very long. They had tried to set up camp in a narrow part of the river where it was hard to leave them alone.

would be nice but
No sea otters in Maine… that is a specialty of the west coast.

How big are these guys… doubtful that they are river otter. River otter are, well, river folk. I have seen them along the penobscot, stillwater etc. Mink is actually pretty common on the islands off Me., and yes they they do go in the water. I wonder what you are seeing.

Otters are not pinnipeds. Pinnipeds are a whole other order of mammals which includes “flipper-footed” critters like seals and walruses. To classify otters to the same level, they’d simply be called carnivores, which doesn’t tell you much, so to be more specific, they are in the weasel family.

I thought they were mink the first time
I saw them. They were on shore and very distracted by a young eagle - didn’t help that a group of 7 kayaks were paddling by at the same time. Last night one surfaced about 15-ft. from my kayak. It was definately an otter.

I checked out National Geographic’s website and - lots of info. There’s 14 types of otters (one of which is extinct). I’d say the ones I’m seeing are North American River Otters. They do venture into the ocean and make their homes in crevices in the ledge, if there’s no place to burrow in along the shore.

We didn’t see them tonight - passed by their shoreline a little later than the previous evenings. Hoping to get a photo to share with you without disturbing them. Wish I’d been at the ready last night - oh well.

Thanks for all of the info.


River Otters can be found
Along the coast, as well as in estuaries, and naturally rivers and lakes.

They are a very curious animal, and where most wild animals will take off at the sight of a human, many times they will play hide and seek with you.

We watched three of them on a rocky shore line in Sitka, AK for a good half an hour. They would take turns swimming toward us, and then going back into their rocky caves.

Many times we have watched them in the tidal marsh rivers on the NC and SC coasts.

There is an urban lake close to Charlotte, where you can find them in the secluded coves.

Lots of times from a distance, you can confuse them with a muskrat, but up closer you can always identify them by their much sleeker body.

Their Pacific cousin the Sea Otter is a giant compared to them.

I love nature !

Cheers, and stay happy,


pretty interesting
Where abouts did you see them. I have never seen an otter in salt water.

Brings to mind another thought we have as we paddle along the maine coast - there are no records of loons breeding along the maine coast - but we see alot of adult loons out there. Any insight on that one. I have decided it is a gay loon community.

On the Still Water
On the still water - springing at spring

From Stewart to the port on the mighty Hochocking

The 16th of March - a day past the Ides

The maples in bloom on smooth river’s sides

Rocks and hemlocks the cliffs of Hochocking

Cormorants and ducks - redwing blackbirds a singing

In springtime they nest there along in the shallows

They lay out their claims to cattails and rose mallows

We put in at Stewart, then down past Beebe

Dave and Tom in a rowboat, Barb canoeing with me

Then on down to Frost in the pool at Coolville

All the way to Ohio - the water was still

Flat as a mirror - the surface like glass

Not a hint of the torrents from a week ago past

The water flowed smooth it was frolic and sport

We rowed and we paddled down to ol’ Hockingport

The otters were playin’ at hide and go seek

Not so fast there ol’ otter, just give me a peek

In a wink - otter gone, did you say there were two?

Three or four makes no matter – they bid us adieu

Lutra canadensis - a large aquatic mustelid

Elongated body and broad, flattened head.

It’s springtime below as it’s springtime above

Young otters, old otters were thinking of love

And way down below, beneath all that silt

I heard otters gather, with my head at a tilt

I could hear the carousing, a night on the town

The boys in tuxedos the girls in silk gowns

Under still waters the otters romancing

They kicked up their heels otters were dancing

Cavorting, contorting they writhed and they wriggled

And young otters too, I could hear ‘em all giggle

And we giggled too as we paddled along

Ol’ Tom fell in water, but he was not drowned

Then on down to Frost in the pool at Coolville

All the way to Ohio - the water was still


sorry , don’t
know as much as I Otter. He,He.

I came across a family of river otters…
…who were playing on some rocks…very entertaining. As one earlier poster stated, they are not afraid of us humans and a pair of them swam over to “check me out.”

All I know
is that they taste like chicken.


Very surprised that nobody else said this first!

Loons nest inland
Loons breed on the inland fresh water lakes and ponds. You’ll find them all over northern New England wherever the water is clean enough and the area quiet enough.

Sea Otter Photo
I took this photo right inside Santa Cruz Harbor last summer. Notice I did not interurp his meal…

knew I shouldn’t have passed that
roadkill otter last week! esp since I had a rental.

The thing about otters…
… is that they get around. I was just out at Destruction Island (off the Olympic coast of Washington) last week on a Matelot Club paddle, and saw over a hundred of them lounging in the kelp beds… very curious about the humans passing through. But I’ve also seen them in south Puget Sound, which is not typical. Small numbers, groups of 2 - 4 mostly, and not often, but the difference in size and behavior characteristics makes it obvious that these are sea otters as opposed to river otters.

River otter tend to be less interested in paddlers, in my experience, smalller in size and much more numerous in the protected coastal waters of the northwest. It’s not uncommon to see them out of the water, running along the shoreline. Sea otter are much more social, both among their own kind as well as with kayakers, and I’ve seen them jump up on decks to get a better look at paddlers.