Prepared for the ThinkQuest Junior Contest by David B. Gregory J. Josh H. and Josh I.
Summit View School, Valley Glen, California
Along 220 miles of Californias coastline live the southern sea otters, Only 2,000 are left out of a population that once numbered close to 18,000. The scientific name for sea otters is Enhydra llutris frolicked. Two hundred years ago, fur hunters from Europe, Russia and America began to kill sea otters because they were so trusting. Over a 140 year span, hunters killed nearly half a million sea otters, because of the tremendous profits from the soft furs. The pelts (furs) were bought for $10.00 each, then the price went up to $60.00. By 1900 when there there were very few animals, the price per pelt rose to $1,125.
It isnt just fur that keeps them warm in the water, but also the air the sea otter traps among its 800 million hairs by grooming, provides insulation. The sea otter spends 10% of its life cleaning its fur squeezing or licking water out of it and blowing or rolling air into it. The sea otters other strategy for survival in the sea is a high metabolic rate. Its body temperature is 100 degrees fahrenheit. The sea otter spends about 25% of its time foraging for food. It needs to consume nearly one quarter of its body weight each day in order to live. They eat foods such as sea urchins, ten types of clams, worms , chitons, abalone, octopus, barnacles, sea cucumbers, squid and crunchy starfish. Otters, like humans, sometimes like only one kind of food. One otter may eat nothing but crab and urchins. Another may eat only turban snails and squid for days. Otters forage about three times each 24 hours, usually leaving their rafting and resting area to do so. Most of their food is on the bottom and they usually dive 15 to 50 feet to find it.When full grown the sea otter is about the size of a German Shepherd. Males weigh about 60 pounds, females 30% less. The sea otters habitat is a portion of the ocean which lies up to 1 ½ miles off shore. In the water, an otter can go from lying on his back or sitting up just as you can on land.
During summer, the sea otter swims mainly on his back. Under water the sea otter can attain 2.2 miles per hour pretty impressive for an animal whos swimming style resembles a clown wearing big shoes.Whales
Whales are marine mammals that are warm-blooded. They breathe air through a blowhole which is a nostril found on the top of their head. They have lungs and nurse their calves with milk. Whales use echolocation to communicate with eachother and to find their prey. Echolocation is the use of sound waves to find objects. A thick fatty layer of blubber found under the whale's skin keeps it warm.
Sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whales. Sperm whales are named for the spermaceti organ which fills most of their large head. Scientists believe that this organ helps the when when it is diving and also to make loud sounds A male sperm whales can be upto 62 feet long. Deep sea octopus is a favorite food of the sperm whale. Sperm whales are found all over the world. A sperm whale mother and its calf rub against each other then their skin peels off.
Beluga whales are also known as white whales. Beluga whales have a melon shaped forehead. Beluga whales live in the arctic waters. They migrate south in winter. Killer whales, polar bears and man hunt beluga whales. Stranded beluga whales will lie very still so that polar bears wont see them.. Beluga whales hunt in groups. They eat worms, mollusks, squid, shellfish and fish.
Humpback whales get their name from their style of diving, not their shape. They lift their backs above the water when they dive and this makes them look humpbacked. Humpbacks are called baleen whales because they have baleen plates instead of teeth. Baleen is a hard flexible material attached to the upper jaw. Humpbacks have a large throat. It takes in a large amount of water and then squeezes the water through the baleen which strains the trapped food fromthe water. Humpbacks are black except for their undersides which are white. They travel in herds from feeding grounds to calving grounds. Humpbacks bob out of the water so they can see above the surface. The humpback's best defense is swimming from danger.
Blue whales are the largest animals that have even lived on land or in water. Blue whales have two blowholes that are raised above the head.
Gray whales get their name from their spotted gray skin color. Gray whales have triangle shaped heads with patches of white yellow, or orange barnacles on their skin. They are aloc called baleen whales because they have baleen plates instead of teeth. The only gray whales left are in the North Pacific. Gray whales feed by sucking water, mud or kelp into their large throats. The prey is trapped in bristles on the baleen plates.
Killer whales are the largest members of the dolphin family. The killer whale's thick body supports a dorsol fin. When a killer whale is born it is about 7 feet long and grows up to 16 feet. Killer whales are curious and social. Killer whales have white bellies and black backs. They have a white sopot behind their eyes. They are found in oceans all over the world.
Dolphins and porpoises are actually smaller whales that range in length from 4 to 12 feet long. They swim in pods. A pod is a herd or school of dolphins. They are found in waters all over the world.
The Galapagos Sea Lion
The Galapagos sea lion lives on the Galapagos islands which are off the coast of Ecuador. It eats fish and squid. Females live up to 20 years. They nurse 1-3 years. Females weigh up to 260 pounds and males up to 550 pounds. Their worst enemies are killer sharks and killer whales. They are fast swimmers. They can leap onto rocks. Their preferred habitat is sandy beaches and rocky shores. Adult sea lions are able to dive 500 feet. They can stay underwater for a half of an hour.