Sea Otters

Contributor: Samantha Penna. Lesson ID: 12052

Do you like to swim in the water? Could you do it wearing a thick coat? Can you carry your dinner table with you? Learn about the cutest, smallest marine mammals on Earth and how important they are!


Life Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Where do theses cute little sea otters spend most of their time?
  • Don't you want to know more about these fun creatures?

Sea otters spend most of their time in the water!

These cute little critters are part of the weasel family. They have all the qualities they need to spend most of their time in water.

  • They have webbed feet that allow them to swim quickly and easily.
  • Their fur is waterproof. Having waterproof fur keeps them warm in cold waters and keeps them dry.
  • Sea otters also have ears and nostrils that close any time they are in the water. This helps keep water out of their noses and ears.
  • Their bodies are designed to be in or near water. Why do you think sea otters spend so much time in the water? Tell your parent or teacher, then read on to find out.

sea otter

Sea otters love to eat crabs, clams, mussels, oysters, sea urchins, fish, squid, and octopuses. All of these tasty snacks can be found in water. A sea otter will hunt down its food, then bring the food back to the surface. The sea otter will float on top of the water with its food on its belly! Sometimes, if the sea otter can’t open a clam or mussel, it will use a rock to break open the shell. In the picture below, you can see a sea otter eating food from its belly:

sea otter eating

While a sea otter is in the water, especially moving water, the sea otter will find something to hold onto so it doesn’t float away. You will often see sea otters wrapped up in kelp or seaweed to keep themselves from floating too far from land. Sea otters will also hold each other’s paws to stay together.

Sea otters always stay in a group called a raft. Some sea otter rafts have only a couple sea otters, while others can have thousands of sea otters! That’s quite a large group! Check out this video of sea otters holding paws, Sea Otters Milo and Tanu Holding Paws from Vancouver Aquarium:

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Sea otters are the only otters that have their babies (called pups) in the water. After the pups are born, the mother sea otter holds the pups on her stomach while she floats on her back. As the baby sea otters grow older, they will learn how to swim and hunt just like adult sea otters do. You will watch a video of a mother sea otter taking care of her baby. While you watch the video, think about how the mom is taking care of her baby. Watch the video, Newborn Sea Otter Pup Snuggles Up With Mom While Floating from Inside Edition: 

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A sea otter’s waterproof fur is very important for keeping it warm. Sea otters clean their fur very often. They use their paws and their teeth to clean their fur. If they don’t keep their fur clean, their fur won’t stay waterproof and they will be very cold while they swim.

sea otter

Sea otters are interesting little critters!

  • Did you know they are the smallest marine mammals on Earth?

You learned a lot of interesting facts about sea otters, so share two things you learned about sea otters with your parent or teacher, then move on to the Got It? section to learn more about sea otters.

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