Once again it comes down to the otters’ tremendous appetites, this time for crabs. How do sea otters break open the shells of animals they like to eat? In general, there are two possibilities. How do sea otters use kelp? 9 years ago. This is the fourth installment of the Botanize! The kelp helps the sea otters to wrap themselves in when they are resting. Sea otters are another predator of urchins in the kelp forests. Sea otters do not eat kelp but they do live in the kelp forests. Within these seas, they are usually found in the vicinity of the shore (which is typically rocky). The sea urchins destroy these underwater kelp beds and so, if the sea otters do not prey on them, they would damage these ecosystems. As aquatic mammals, otters spend most of their time in the water. Sea otters mainly eat sea urchins, crabs, clams, mussels, octopus, other marine invertebrates, and fish. Sea Otters eat sea urchins that kill many kelp forest. Otters eat up to 30 percent of their body weight each day, and when they prey on lots of shellfish and urchins, kelp forests can regrow and give salmon and rockfish and others a place to stay. Sea otters do not eat kelp but they do live in the kelp forests. Without sea otters, sea urchins can overpopulate the sea floor and devour the kelp forests that provide cover and food for many other marine animals. Sea otters are the keystone species of the kelp ecosystem, as well as having a mutualistic relationship with the kelp itself. They use the deep cover as protection from predators. However, these … Contrary to popular opinion sea otters rarely eat starfish,and any kelp that is consumed apparently passes through the sea otter's system undigested. Without the sea otters, in fact, the kelp ecosystem would struggle, probabaly even die. No forest means no home for the fish. Sea Otters get the parasite from Sea Lions or Seals. Sea urchins love to eat kelp and chew it off at the bottom of the stock killing it completely. The reason for this is because sea otters eat sea urchins and sea urchins eat kelp. The damage can sever kelp from its roots and cut the kelp off from ocean sediment nutrients. Without sea otters, the urchin population booms and destroys the kelp forest habitat. A Mammal With Thickest Fur: Sea otters are the mammals with the thickest fur, with an estimated one million hair per square inch. 4. The sea otter eats sea urchins which if there is a large population makes the kelp endangered. By controlling the size and number of sea urchins (sea urchins are one of their favorite foods, and they eat the larger ones first), sea otters created the opportunity for kelp to grow and flourish, which in turn created habitat for numerous other kelp forest dwellers. Kelp. The sea otter ecosystem is largely made up of thick kelp forests. They use the deep cover as protection from predators. They wrap the kelp around themselves before falling asleep. - They kind of hold the whole food chain in order. 10. Kelp forests are important to today's oceans, and they depend on the organisms … Sea otters floating in kelp. They use kelp to crack open the shells. They are like underwater forest made out of giant kelp, and sustaining hundreds of different organisms such as; kelp, abalone, crustaceans, urchins, harbor seals, and also sea otters. An otter, weighing about 65 pounds, will eat more than will one of the 500-pound sea lions at the Aquarium. The degree of influence that otters have depends on where the carbon ultimately ends up. Thank you for your help! By chowing down on these invertebrates, sea otters keep them from denuding kelp forests. A feeding dive usually lasts from less than a minute to as long as 5 minutes or more. Sea urchins pose a humongous threat to kelp forests because they multiply quickly and eat at the holdfasts (roots) of kelp forests, feeding on the kelp frond where it attaches to the ocean floor. They will probably be wrapped in kelp beds. Many of the species they eat, like Dungeness crab, are prized by commercial fishermen. Within these forests, sea otters prey on sea urchins, which graze heavily on kelp. When the otters were extirpated, the sea urchins took over and decimated the kelp forest. A caretaker explains what items are on a typical menu. Sea otters eat 25% of their body weight a day. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that they indulge in food that can be found in and around rivers. Similarly, the otters play much the same role in estuaries, except here they benefit the seagrass beds where baby fish hide and older ones forage. Sea otters inherit in the shallow coastal areas and prefer the places with kelp. They use the kelp to clean off their fur. In the kelp forest, it eats sea urchins and other animals that graze on giant kelp. How do sea otters stay warm in the cold water? Melissa Petruzzello of Encyclopædia Britannica and Kyle Shanebeck of the University of Alberta discuss the relationship between sea otters and the health of giant kelp forests and eelgrass meadows. In response, bald eagles have had to adjust their foraging tactics and look for prey elsewhere. 3. In turn, the kelp forests provide food and cover for many other species of animals, and kelp forests play an important role in capturing carbon and reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Sea lions are another major predator of sea otters. Otters are meat eaters. They eat the kelp plants. Eric Viet ngo. Sea otters eat mussels found on the seabed. While sea otters could alleviate grazing pressure on Oregon’s bull kelp, this idea only looks at the issue from a top-down, not bottom-up, perspective. What do sea urchins like to eat? Since both organisms are benefitting this is an example of mutualism. This disease is called Toxoplasma gondii, and it is in the sea now! For the study area, the value of sea otters in maintaining carbon-storing kelp forests is anywhere from about $200 million to more than $400 million. And they love sea urchins, which eat kelp. When otters are present, they control Sea urchin populations. Sea otters do an excellent job of eating large sea urchins over eight centimetres in diameter, but they tend to leave behind smaller urchins. Sea otters can eat up to 25% of their body weight each day. Sea Lions. One key problem is that the kelp cannot grow back, since the carpet of urchins effectively acts like a herd of goats in a dusty pen, completely subduing any growth of … Without the sea otters to keep them in check, urchins and other grazing invertebrates can turn flourishing kelp forests into underwater wastelands called urchin barrens. The sea otter and kelp also have a mutualistic relationship. - Kelp and sea otters go together. Otters' big appetites protect kelp forests by eating sea urchins. They help kelp forests to flourish by keeping sea urchin numbers under control. Southern sea otters live in giant kelp forests along the California coast. These small urchins also readily devour kelp, and if their numbers swell, they begin to thin out kelp forests. ... Bald eagles’ diet was once predominantly sea otter pups and kelp forest fish. They need to eat a lot of food, nearly 25% of their weight every day and so they can eat a lot of urchins. However, otters differ from similar species like beavers, muskrats, and nutria that feed on plants. Sea Otters can receive a deadly brain disease. By eating sea urchins, the sea otter helps in conserving the kelp forests, one of the world’s most productive ecosystems. The Sea Otters are not harmed nor helped, so the fish benefit. Once the kelp dies it floats up and provides the sea otter with a source of food. The sea otter is an important part of both of these habitats — It’s a keystone species, which means that the health of sea otters is a good indication of the health of other species and ecosystems nearby. parasitism . Source(s): wikipedia.org. Their fur resides of two layers- an undercoat and longer guard hair. If sea otters are not present, then urchin populations boom, which leads to overgrazing — killing all the kelp — and creating a wasteland known as an urchin barren. 0 0. Otters are very active feeders. However, with the decline in sea otter populations, bald eagles have to turn to marine fish. 8 Top Predators of Sea Otters that Eat Sea Otter. By keeping the urchin population low, it keeps the kelp populations healthy. By maintaining healthy kelp forests, sea otters also indirectly help to reduce levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a prevalent greenhouse gas, as kelp absorbs and sequesters carbon. Sea otters require a lot of food (Costa 1978, Reidman & Estes 1990), and what they eat will always be a function of prey availability and quality (Ostfeld 1982). Sea otters can be found close to certain seas near Alaska, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and the country of Russia. Sea Otters in the Kelp Forest The kelp forest is among the most biologically productive marine habitat known to Earth today. However, southern sea otters are picky eaters — they like to eat mostly turban snails and, indeed, they get infected with Toxo by eating these organisms. They use rocks to crack open the shells while they lie flat on the ocean, maybe floating on seaweed or some kelp. Abalone, prized sea snails that also eat kelp, are meanwhile starving in droves, and eventually, rockfishes, which use kelp canopies as nursery habitat, may begin to vanish from the environment, warns Catton. Sea otters protect kelp forests off Northern California by eating herbivores such as sea urchins that graze on the kelp. Healthy kelp forests are a very good thing. 11. ouch, that hurts! The carbon is initially trapped in a one-off mechanism by the kelp in its tissues. Photograph: Frans Lanting/Getty Images. audio series. In the Monterey Bay, the sea otter lives in kelp forest and estuary habitats. They use rocks to crack open the shells. Just because urchins are available, doesn’t mean otters will eat them. They use a can opener. Parasitism. During a dive, the sea otter collects and stores the food in the loose skin flaps of its armpit. For hungry Asian small-clawed otters at Smithsonian's National Zoo, variety is the spice of life. What Do Otters Eat Regularly? 4. 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