In the shallow coastal waters off the northern Pacific, the sea otter lives and plays. These animals are critical to their ecosystem, maintaining balance in the kelp forests that provide cover and food for many other species. Unlike most marine mammals, sea otters don’t have a layer of blubber instead, they have the densest fur in the animal kingdom, at up to 1 million hairs per square inch!
Sadly, this special characteristic also makes sea otters especially vulnerable to water pollution oil spills in particular. When sea otters come into contact with oil, it causes their fur to mat, which prevents it from insulating their bodies. Without this natural protection from the frigid water, they can quickly die from hypothermia. The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound killed several thousand sea otters, and more recent spills, while not on the same scale, pose the same danger.
Countries around the northern hemisphere continue to ship and drill for oil throughout sea otter habitat. If we want to protect them, and the wealth of other unique and important species in this region, we have to remove these deadly threats from the coastal areas they call home.
Join us in asking President Obama to put an end to oil pipelines along the coast, and move shipping out of sensitive marine ecosystems!