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Celebrating sea otters
© Suzi Eszterhas/Minden Pictures
Say hello to this mom and newborn pup in Monterey Bay, USA, on Sea Otter Awareness Week. Sea otters shower their pups with attention, cradling them and grooming them for hours. But it's more than a gesture of affection—a mom will rub her pup to fluff the pup's coat, which causes the fur to retain air bubbles. The air insulates the pup from chilly water and sometimes causes the youngster to float like a cork. Sea otters can survive on land, but they spend most of their time in the water, sleeping above the surface and anchoring themselves with kelp—or by holding onto each other. When they get hungry, they use rocks as tools to hunt food and pry open shells—something that makes them relatively unique, as they're one of the few mammals that can use tools.
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Quick fact:
The sea otter is considered a keystone species, controlling sea urchin populations which would otherwise inflict extensive damage to kelp forest ecosystems.
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