By Bethany Gogo / Jan 2, 2023
It started off like any other day at the beach just relaxing and sunbathing at Vancouver Beach in British Columbia. Beachgoers were enjoying the sun as they lay by the sea. Nobody had any clue what was about to happen. For one man, this was going to be an afternoon he would never forget.Caught On CameraThis man was lucky to have a woman who captured it all on film. Nowadays, one doesn’t have to depend on memory alone because almost everyone has a smartphone. At a moments notice everyone has a camera ready to capture special moments. Its common for extraordinary events to be caught on camera by more than one bystander. In the case of the encounter at Vancouver Beach, one woman who has a youtube channel by the name of AllisonMoo caught every second on film.
Something Strange In The Waters
The man was quietly relaxing enjoying the afternoon sun when he saw something floating in the sea. It looked unusual so he sat up to get a better look. He thought maybe it was a piece of driftwood or trash. With a better view, he quickly realized whatever it was clearly was alive. It was moving around in the surf. It was some kind of creature.
The animal was clearly moving closer to the shore. As it moved closer, the man along with other beach onlookers could see it was making a strong drive to make it closer to the beach. The man’s curiosity was exploding at this point. He wanted to identify the strange creature. Whatever it was would ion be close enough to shore to see what it was. All the onlookers needed to do was wait and watch.
Call Him Crazy
After a bit of a wait that felt like forever, the creature was finally close enough to see. It was moving towards the shallow waters but the man was done waiting around. With no hesitation, he got up and started wading through the water towards the waves. Was he crazy to be approaching the unknown creature without concern for his own safety?
Running Through His Mind
Everyone on shore was surprised by this man’s actions. What was he thinking going into the water before he could tell what animal he was about to encounter? Maybe he thought he was going to be the one to make an incredible discovery of an unusual sea creature. Or maybe he thought it was a pet that needed rescuing.
Up Close And Personal
The creatures identity was somewhere in the middle. It was not a new sea creature nor was it a pet, but it was something that you don’t see everyday at the beach. The aninal was actually friendly to everyones surprise. Once the man had identified the animal he got even more close and personal. The creature came right up to him and flipped over for a belly rub and wanted to play.
Where Is He From?
From the location, the beach that the animal was found at, it is very likely that it is from the Northern Sea. A fun fact about this playful creature is that it can live its entire life without leaving the water. Another unknown characteristic is that it has the densest hair of any animal on earth with one million per square inch! This allows the animal to stay warm in the cooler waters even though it doesn’t have blubber.
A Small But Powerful Creature
While he may seem like a friendly and fuzzy creature with all that hair, the man probably should have been a little more careful while interacting a wild animal. These animals are incredibly handy and smart. they are known to use tools to help them hunt for food. They hold rocks between their chest and armpit to use for pounding shells to break them open. They also have very dexterous hands and are the only sea animal that is capable of flipping over rocks in search of food. They are even able to catch fish in their bare hand!
The onlookers had a look of concern on their faces as they watched the interaction. You are able to hear them discuss the background of the video whether the man was being smart with his actions.Some were just sitting and enjoying the show while others were concerned about what would happen if the animal decided to bite his new friend.
The creature started climbing around the man’s legs in the water even giving him a few friendly nips. While the animal’s attitude was still playful, the man should have been alerted by this behavior that at the animal could accidentally hurt him. At one point, it looked like the encounter could take a turn for the worst. One of the “friendly nips” clearly fought a little more of the man’s skin as on the video you can hear him cry out in a small amount of pain. The man should have used more caution because as a human, you do not know the intentions or strength of an animal.
A Sight To See
As the man was playing with the animal in the water, they attracted more attention from around the beach. Everyone seemed to be quite amused. Most everyone had probably never seen something like this before. The onlookers were taking their own photos and video of the pair interacting. The creature was very friendly and seemed to enjoy being touched and petted.
It was not surprising to those who are familiar with sea otters that he was so playful and friendly. The species is known for sliding off of rocks, wrestling with each other and chasing their tails. Sea otters are social creatures and known for being curious about new things. However, like any other wild animal they can be unpredictable.
Proof that sea otters are social creatures is the way they travel. They never migrate far from home but they move in rafts. Usually the rafts are comprised of the same gender. There can be anywhere from ten to a thousand otters in a raft. What a sight!
Coming across an otter raft seems like an amazing thing to see. Although this seems the the most awesome thing to witness, there’s another social behavior that takes the cake for cute factor. When otters are sleeping, they will often hold paws with each other to keep themselves from floating away from their loved ones. How cute is that!
Goodbye New Friend
Unfortunately, this performance at the beach could not last forever. Everyone watching probably would say it was too short but the otter had other ideas as he decided he should head back to sea. The otter said goodbye to all and left in style as he flipped on his back and floated away.
There used to be an estimated sea otter population of over 300,000! Unfortunately, because of hunters preying on them for their beautiful pelts, those numbers have dropped significantly. This practice has now been banned and since the 20th century, their numbers have been slowly rising again. They do still remain officially ‘endangered’ as a species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Sea otters are most commonly found in the Alaskan waters.
A Rare Sight
According to the San Diego zoo, sea otters are rarely seen close to shore. This fact makes the encounter between the man and otter even more rare. For anyone looking to visit these incredible creatures in their natural habitat, you will need to head to either the Pacific coasts of Russia and Alaska, or the California coast. You can usually find them hanging out in giant kelp forests or just floating and resting on the water.
Curiosity Can Be Dangerous
Onlookers might think that this situation is one in a million. Although they may be correct, encounters like this one are becoming more common than ever. Because they are growing in numbers and are no longer being hunted they are becoming more curious about humans. They are more likely to play and interact if you come across one. Unfortunately, not all humans are as kind and gentle as the man in the video. There are many people out there that would exploit these creatures with cruelty or without regard to their safety.
Keep Your Distance
The best advice for humans is to keep your distance if you see these amazing animals in the wild. You may think it would be cool to touch one and experience the animal up close but it’s not the best thing for you or the animal. Instead, take out your camera and take a photo to keep as a memory but stay at a safe distance from the animal and definitely do not touch it in any way. Enjoy the fact that you got to see a wild animal in its natural habitat.
Shipwreck, Scurvy and Sea Otters
The first sea otter was discovered by Georg Steller in 1751. In 1741, Steller became the first European to step foot in Alaska. Marooned there for nearly nine months after his boat ran aground, the German-born naturalist went on to discover several spectacular animals including the sea otter. Steller’s ship crash landed in the area in late summer. The crash meant that he and the crew would need to survive an Alaskan winter with not much more than the skeleton of their boat. The crew attempted to starve off scurvy by eating otter meat, which has a small amount of vitamin C.
Weighing as much as 99 lbs, the sea otter is the heaviest member of the weasel family. They are part of the Mustelidae family classification.
Sea otters are considered a keystone species, meaning they have a disproportionately large effect on its environment relative to its abundance.
Sea otters eat lots of sea urchins. Otters get urchin shells open primarily be hitting them, either with a rock or against a rock. When they can, otters will simply smash an urchin shell against a large rock until it cracks or pops open. They are known to show up to mealtime already equipped with the necessary tools. Otters have little pouches under their arms, in which they can store rocks to use as little hammers for smashing open urchin shells.
Will Travel For Food
They can dive as deep as 330 feet when foraging for food. Sea otters dive to the ocean floor to retrieve food. They catch prey in their forepaws and then bring it to the surface. Once they have their food, they remain in the water to eat it. They will lie on its back, with its food on its chest. Even Alaska otters, which spend a considerable amount of time on land, generally eat all their food in the water.
Sea otters have the thickest fur of any mammal, and it is considered one of the most valuable types of fur in the world
Russian Fur Trade
Over 1,000,000 sea otters were killed during the Maritime Fur Trade. The fur trade was a ship-based fur trade system that focused on acquiring furs of sea otters along with other animals from the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast and Alaskan natives. The furs were mostly sold in China in exchange for tea, silks, porcelain, and other Chinese goods. Those goods were then brought back to the United States and Europe. The maritime fur trade was pioneered by Russians. In its late period, the maritime fur trade was largely conducted by the British Hudson’s Bay Company and the Russian-American Company. The most profitable furs were those of sea otters, especially the northern sea otter which inhabited the coastal waters between the Columbia River in the south to the Aleutian Islands in the north.
The most significant threat to sea otters are oil spills. When sea otters come into contact with oil, it causes their fur to mat. This prevents their fur from insulating their bodies. Without this natural protection from the frigid waters, sea otters can quickly die from hypothermia. The toxicity of oil can also be harmful to sea otters, causing liver and kidney failure as well as severe damage to their lungs and eyes.
So Many Different Species
There are 13 species of otter found all around the world. Some otter species spend all their time in the water while others are land and water based animals. The Giant Otter is one of the most popular that people know about. The Sea Otter is also one that is very popular due to the attention it gets for being different from the others in some huge ways. All species of Otters are small in size and they are very playful. This is why people love watching them play.