07/26/2018: "Cute But Nasty, Sea Otters Are Showing Up"
(Ken Conger photo)
Those cute furry little sea otters have returned to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, including off of San Juan Island, and while it is seen as more evidence that after nearly being wiped out by fur hummers, they are returning -over 2,000 counted last year in Washingot- but some are not so sure it is such a wonderful thing, given some of their habits.
Some background gives clues to their nature, I mean when you are in the same family as weasels and the infamous honey badger, you might expect some potential issues, or as the Smithsonian puts it “there’s a lot more going on below the surface.
They eat a lot, and then move on. Sea otters love sea urchins, well, at least the gonads, and after eating leave a mess of torn apart sea unchins behind; however Harlequin ducks, if present, are known to clean up most of the mess.
More troubling than bad table manners, is there total lack of mating manners. Brian Switek reported in a story for Slate that sea otters attack babe seals in an attempt to mate with them, which frequently kills the pups as they bite their face as part of the rape.
How bad is this behaviors? The Slate story reported one case in which three male sea otters were “observed harassing, dragging, guarding, and copulating with harbor seals,” for a week after the seal pups had been killed by the less than amorous sea otters.
But, they sure are cute…