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Southern Sea Otter

Enhydra lutris nereis

At the Detroit Zoo
The Arctic Ring of Life is home to three southern sea otters who were rescued at different times along the California coast. Female Ollie was found stranded in Santa Cruz, California in 2010 when she was approximately two weeks old. At one day old, male Monte was found stranded on a beach in Santa Cruz, California in 2020. In 2022, a 3-week-old Finn was found stranded in Carmel-By-The-Sea, California. All three otters were determined to be non-releasable by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Ollie and Monte moved together to the Detroit Zoo in June 2021. Newcomer Finn arrived at the Detroit Zoo in May 2023.

All three can be viewed inside the Arctic Ring of Life habitat. While viewing the sea otters from the underwater tunnels, guests may see green algae in the habitat. This is a natural part of the sea otters’ habitat and does not impact the animals’ well-being.

Sea otters’ fur color ranges from dark to reddish brown with a lighter colored head. Their fur is very dense to keep them warm in the cold ocean waters. Sea otters can often be seen grooming. A healthy coat is critical for their well-being. They have retractable claws on their front feet perfectly designed for grooming, and their hind feet are webbed for swimming.

Southern sea otters are endangered and at risk due to human threats such as pollution, oil spills, marine debris and over-fishing.

Fun Facts

  • Sea otters consume up to 25% of their body weight each day.

  • Sea otters have the densest fur of all mammals.

  • A group of sea otters is called a raft.