Later on traps were set on land to capture them based upon evidence of where the Otter populations were living. Those that were financially high in status also wore them. Sea otters were hunted to local extinction along the Pacific Northwest coast as part of the fur trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. Remnant populations survived off central California and western Alaska. In many locations including the United States capes, belts, and sashes made from the fur of Otters have been very popular. Sea otters are a keystone species, meaning their role in their environment has a greater effect than other species. These fishermen depend upon a good daily catch for a living. Since Otter hunting is illegal in many areas you need to familiarize yourself with the laws. Sea otters once numbered in the hundreds of thousands, but fur traders hunted them in large numbers and, consequently, reduced their population size. (Joy) Sea Otters Hunted To Near Extinction. Early in the 20th century only 1,000 to 2,000 animals remained. They discovered the sea otters that they hunted for survival were extremely valuable and took 900 sea otter pelts to Russia. That isn’t limited to only their society though. Sea otters were hunted to local extinction off the Pacific Northwest coast as part of the fur trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. Since there isn’t much of a market for it people can’t make money like they used to by killing them. Sea otters have webbed feet, water-repellent fur to keep them dry and warm, and nostrils and ears that close in the water. They could also be killed in the water instead of just on land. The early hunting methods though included darts and arrows. Others did so out of a conscious effort to protect these animals from extinction. They sleep this way, often gathered in groups. The sea otter were hunted almost to extinction. Then groups of hunters were sent out in canoes to find and kill Otters. Large hunting efforts were emerging that involved a large ship in the water. The hunters use spears to kill the otters and then skin them for their beautiful fur pelts.. Karana is angry that the Aleuts are killing so many otters. These traits are what have made the otter such an endangered species. Just a few hundred years ago, thousands of sea otters peppered the coast of California, dwarfing the current population of less than 3000 animals. A sea otter in Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge USFWS/Lisa hupp. Sea otter hunters (1896), Source: Wikimedia Commons. Many of the pelts were sold to the Chinese who used them to make belts, capes, and clothes for the wealthy class of people. Then they too would be captured. These otters were hunted or traded well over a thousand years ago, long before European contact and the maritime fur trade, and the results of the analysis show it. Sea otters are meticulously clean. Sea otters have thick underfur that traps air to form an insulating layer against the chilly waters (they have no insulating fat). The tails of Otters were often made into items for men to wear. This aquatic member of the weasel family is found along the coasts of the Pacific Ocean in North America and Asia. Why are Sea Otters Hunted? The fact that most people are no longer interested in wearing Otter clothing has helped to keep those laws active. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/s/sea-otter.html. Unalashka Natives with their Canoes, 1827. More than 40 percent of California sea otter deaths are caused by parasitic, fungal, or bacterial infections, and studies have linked these Males weigh up to 90 lbs. A few hours after the hunt, we were in the trailer eating sea otter backstrap, pan fried and lightly seasoned. They are often seen with a clam or mussel and a rock that has been deftly snared from the ocean floor. Once commercial harvest ceased, sea otter numbers rebounded and they re-colonized much of their former range. All rights reserved. Otters sometimes float in forests of kelp, or giant seaweed, in which they entangle themselves to provide anchorage in the swirling sea. The main reason that these Otters were hunted though was for their fur. They hunt them in order to reduce the competition for the fish that they want to capture. Historically there were about 16,000 sea otters along the entire California coast. There are 13 species of otters, in seven genera, according to Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). It grows from 4.9 to 5.9 feet (1.5 to 1.8 meters) long. It was the best way to preserve the pelts from these animals. Designed by Elegant Themes | Powered by WordPress. Today, sea otters are protected by law. They also are aware that Otters consume large amounts of them every single day. This would go on for days until the leader of the expedition felt that they had enough cargo to return home. Bering and his crew suffered a shipwreck on the Commander Islands in the Russian far east. They have the densest fur in the animal kingdom. They also dine on such aquatic creatures as sea urchins, crabs, squid, octopuses, and fish. Like other mustelids, sea otters are small animals that have short legs, short round ears, and thick fur. In the 1700-1800s on the coast of California, the sea otter was hunted for its gorgeous pelt. These aquatic otters do more than sleep while floating on their backs. Sea otters have been using tools for generations—and now archaeologists are probing their secrets. Sea otters have inhabited the northern coasts of the Pacific Ocean since the Pleistocene, about 1 to 3 million years ago. Sea otters were hunted for their fur to the point of near extinction. The otter is one of the few mammals that use tools. Then groups of hunters were sent out in canoes to find and kill Otters. They hold infants on their chests to nurse them, and quickly teach them to swim and hunt. In the 1700-1800s on the coast of California, the sea otter was hunted for its gorgeous pelt. F. H. von Kittlitz in Litke's Atlas to Voyage. After eating, they wash themselves in the ocean, cleaning their coat with their teeth and paws. This is one animal that they find to be out there for them to access. (41 kilograms).The smallest otter is the Asian small-clawed otter, which grows up to 2.9 fee… Sea otters today are considered a species that is endangered. Even the young pups would be trapped and killed for their fur. The largest otter is the giant otter. According to the aquarium, these adorable creatures were hunted to “near extinction” not too long ago. In fact, they were often captured first so that their distress calls would bring adult Otters to find out what was going on. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- Although sea otters have the ability to walk on land, they are capable of living exclusively in the ocean. As a result the numbers of them are quite low. A host of human impacts are to blame for keeping otters near the edge of extinction today—loss of habitat, competition for food, diseases carried by our pets and oils spills, to name just … You will be protecting Otters lives and those individuals may have to do jail time or pay a huge fine for their illegal activities. It was killed by fishermen who thought the otters were eating too many of the fish they wanted to catch. They come in many sizes. They have good reason to take care of their coats—it helps them to remain waterproof and insulated against the cold. This is why conservation efforts are in place to help them continue to survive. 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