Sydney

Southern River Otter [Lontra Provocax]

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Description:
- Generally brown on top and lighter gray on the bottom, with a long body and flat head; Adults grow to about 3 feet long and weigh 10-20 pounds.
- Eats a variety of fish and crustaceans including crayfish and saltwater mussels. Uses small rocks or other objects to break open shellfish.

- Breeding occurs in July and August and 1-4 kits (baby otters) are born 2 months later. Kits become sexually mature at age 2.

Habitat:
- Mostly live in the southern tip of South America, in the Patagonian region of Chile and Argentina.
- Have been around for 5 billion years. Have been found from Japan to Baja, CA since the 1700's. Currently found in Chile and Argentina and some in California.
- Lives and nests in estuaries, rivers, and lakes with fresh water.
- They are not migratory
- They live both in and out of water, are nocturnal, and do not hibernate.
- Their main predators are the Great White Shark, Orca, Killer Whale, and Bald Eagle.

Problems:
- Species became endangered due to loss of habitat and hunting for its fur; Is also affected by pollution of wetlands.
- The main cause of the endangerement of sea otters is oil spills that cause exposure to contaminants and disease.

Solutions:
- Listed as threatened under the ESA and fully protected under California state law.
- Protected under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act
- Number of sea otters in California has increased from 50 to 2,000.
- More steps are being taken today to prevent oil spills, which are the main threat to the southern sea otter.
- There is also a Sea Otter Awareness Week organized by the Defenders of Wildlife every year to teach people about sea otters and promote research and conservation programs.

Sources:
http://www.kidsplanet.org/tt/seaotter/pdf/readthreats.pdf - Threats to Sea Otters
http://www.earthsendangered.com/profile.asp?ID=11&sp=314 - Earths Endangered Creatures - Southern Sea Otter
http://www.defenders.org/wildlife_and_habitat/wildlife/sea_otter.php - Defenders of Wildlife - Sea Otter

http://www.defenders.org/resources/publications/programs_and_policy/wildlife_conservation/imperiled_species/sea_otter/southern_sea_otter_fact_sheet.pdf - Defenders of Wildlife - Southern Sea Otter Summary