The Sea Otter is one of the smallest and cutest marine mammals. They were almost hunted to extinction for their beautiful fur about a hundred years ago, in fact, they disappeared from the coastline of British Columbia. They were reintroduced to the west coast of Vancouver Island around 1970, and protected, and the population has done well.
They are extremely important for the well-being of the coastline ecology because sea otters eat sea urchins and shellfish, which can crowd out seaweeds such as kelp. Kelp takes huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the air and releases oxygen which is good for the earth.
Sea Otters on Canadian Geographic: Animal Facts Page
This is a lovely book to read: Sea Otter Inlet by Celia Godkin.
Without the sea otter to eat them, the spiny purple sea urchins began to multiply.
There is a balance in nature, and when one part is removed, it has an effect on all the other parts.
Activity: A food web shows feeding relationships – who eats what in an ecosystem. See if you can make a food web that includes the plants and creatures you come across in this book.
Another book option is: What if there were no sea otters? by Suzanne Slade.