How Sea Otters Fight Global Warming

global warming sea otters & kelp forest

Sea otter wrapped up in kelp (photo by Monterey Bay Aquarium)

The simple answer is that sea otters are a keystone species that eat the sea urchins who graze on kelp. The kelp then flourishes and sequesters (sucks up) carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. So sea otters indirectly fight global warming.

Here is one wild sea otter’s perspective on life in the kelp forest:

We sea otters have been called global warming warriors”, but I do not know how to wield a sword! I have been known to use a big rock to open up my shelled prey though. It’s nice being one of the few animals that can use tools.

Kelp forests are one of the most productive ecosystems on earth. Instead of lush green foliage and lots of rainfall like the rainforest, the kelp forest has lush yellowish-brown seaweed and lots of wave action. Another difference is that rainforests are hot and humid, while kelp prefers colder waters (50 degrees F) but can live in temperatures up to 70 degrees F. It is one of the fastest growing plants on earth, as it can grow up to 2 feet in one day! Bamboo can also grow that fast on land.

I like living in the kelp forest because I am perfectly built to live there. My dense fur coat keeps me warm while I dive and catch my favorite seafoods. My favorites include sea urchins, abalone (when I can find it!), and snails.

We sea otters like to wrap ourselves, or our pups in kelp fronds when we sleep. Some sea otters will even wrap a live crab in the kelp while they eat something else!

Go visit a kelp forest today, like at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Look for me and my buddies off the deck of the aquarium!

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