Often, when reading blogs and researching photos, I find that folks are a little confused about sea otters and where they live. So I thought I would try to set the record straight about the locales of our beloved salt water dwelling “SEA OTTERS”.
This map indicates both the current and historic ranges of the sea otter.
Sea Otter Taxonomy is as follows:
Due to geographic variation and isolation, the sea otter is divided into three subspecies: Lutris, Kenyoni, Nereis
1. The “Asian” or “Common” Sea Otter: Lutris Lutris
E. l. lutris ranges from the Kuril Islands to the Commander Islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is the largest subspecies in both size and number.
2. The “Northern”, “Alaskan”, “Aleutian” Sea Otter: Lutris Kenyoni
E. l. kenyoni is native to Alaska and the Pacific west coast from the
Aleutian islands to British Columbia, Washington, and northern Oregon. Reintroductions in 1969 and 1970 off the Washington coast were very successful
and sea otters have been expanding their range since.They have now expanded
to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and can be found almost as far east as Pillar Point. A few have have even been spotted in the northern Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. Just down graded to “threatened”, this subspecies has been slowly recoverring and is no longer listed as “endangered.”
3. The “California” or “Southern” Sea Otter: Lutris Nereis
E. l. nereis is found off the coast of central California. Their range is currently expanding to parts of southern California, where they are not recognized or protected as an endangered species (The “No Otter Zone“). Listed as an endangered species the 2008 population numbered less than 2800 (Population Status). For additional information on Southern sea otters visit www.otterproject.org .
Now that we know where they are, and where they want to be- lets try to keep their neighborhoods safe and clean!