• Sunset view of Glacier Bay and the surrounding Fairweather Mountains.

    Glacier Bay

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Instructional Resources: Sea Otters

 

The following is a list of some great sources of information on sea otters. Students should be able to locate more through online searching.

Also, at the bottom you will find a glossary of sea otter terms used in the student activities.

Otters

Heat Insulation

Studies


Bodkin, J. L., K. A. Kloecker, G. G. Esslinger, D. H. Monson, H. A. Coletti, J. Doherty. 2003. Sea otter studies in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. 2002 Annual Report. U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, Anchorage, AK.
http://www.absc.usgs.gov/research/sea_otters/pdf_files/GLBA_ANN_RPT_2002_final.pdf

Bodkin, J. L, K. A. Kloecker, G. G. Esslinger, D. H. Monson, and J. D. DeGroot. 2001. Sea otter studies in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve: Aerial surveys, foraging observations, and intertidal clam sampling. 2000 Annual Report. U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Anchorage, AK.
http://www.absc.usgs.gov/research/sea_otters/pdf_files/GLBA_ANN_RPT_2001_FINAL.pdf

Bodkin, J. L, K. A. Kloecker, G. G. Esslinger, D. H. Monson, and J. D. DeGroot. 2001. Sea otter studies in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve: Aerial surveys, foraging observations, and intertidal clam sampling. 2000 Annual Report. U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Anchorage, AK.
http://www.absc.usgs.gov/research/sea_otters/pdf_files/GLBA_ANN_RPT_2000_FINAL.pdf

Bodkin, J.L. and Kloecker, K.A. 1999. Intertidal clam diversity, size, abundance, and biomass in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, 1999 Annual Report. U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, Anchorage, AK.
http://www.absc.usgs.gov/research/sea_otters/pdf_files/ic_glba_annrpt_1999.pdf

 

Sea Otter Glossary


Abiotic
non living component of an ecosystem such as sunlight.

Adaptation
Process by which an organism becomes better suited to its environment, thus increasing its chance of survival.
Basal metabolic rate
A measurement of energy required to keep the body functioning at rest. Measured in calories, metabolic rates increase with exertion, stress, fear, and illness.
Biotic
The living components of the environment, such as plants or animals that affect ecological functions.
Blubber
Thick layer of fat under a marine animal's skin that keeps them warm in cold weather.
Calorie
The quantity of thermal energy required to raise one gram of water 1°C at 15°C.
Cobble
A rock fragment or substrate particle that is smaller than a boulder, usually between 64 and 256 millimeters in diameter.
Decompression sickness
A condition with several symptoms which may result from gas or bubbles in divers' tissues after pressure reduction.
Dominant
An animal or plant that by its size, abundance, or coverage exerts considerable influence upon the habitat's biotic and abiotic conditions.
Drysuit
A garment designed to protect a diver from the underwater environment.
Ecosystem
A self-sustaining community of living organisms and the environment that surrounds them.
Environment
The sum total of conditions, living and nonliving, with which an organism interacts.
Forage
To wander in search of food (v.); food (n.)
Gravel
Small stones, stone fragments or pebbles.
Guardhairs
Longer hairs that grow through the underfur and protect it from matting and abrasion.
Habitat
Place where an organism lives.
Herbivores
Organisms that only eat plants.
Hypothermia
Abnormally low body temperature leading to physical and mental collapse.
Intertidal zone
A zone of transition extending from areas of high tide, that are routinely exposed to air and sunlight, to areas of low tide that are rarely exposed. Plants and animals that inhabit this area have adapted to the extreme variability of conditions in and out of the water.
Insulator
A material that prevents the passage of heat.
Invertebrate
An animal without a backbone, such as an insect.
Kelp
Any one of brown algae or seaweed, often growing in oceanic "forests."
Keystone Predator
Predators that play dominant roles in an ecosystem and affect many other organisms. The removal of a keystone predator from an ecosystem causes a reduction of the species diversity among its former prey.

A good example of a keystone predator is the sea otter. Sea otter prey on sea urchins. Sea urchins graze on such organisms as kelp. By keeping the sea urchin population in check, other organisms, such as giant kelp, can grow. This changes the entire ecosystem.
Keystone Species
Organisms that play dominant roles in an ecosystem and affect many other organisms.

A classic keystone species is a small predator that prevents a particular herbivorous species from eliminating dominant plant species. Since the prey numbers are low, the keystone predator numbers can be even lower and still be effective. Yet without the predators, the herbivorous prey would explode in numbers, wipe out the dominant plants, and dramatically alter the character of the ecosystem.
Marine
Living in the sea and not in fresh water.
Marine environment
An environment characterized by salt spray or salt water.
Metabolism
The marked and rapid transformation of a larva into an adult that occurs in some animals; organic processes (in a cell or organism) that are necessary for life.
Nearshore
A zone extending from the shoreline outward to the offshore line.
Predator
An animal that kills and eats other animals; predation is the act of preying by a predator who kills and eats the prey.
Trophic
Involving the feeding habits or food relationship of different organisms in a food chain.
Underfur
Fur that traps a layer of air to provide insulation; provides water-repellent quality.
Undersuit
A suit worn under another one, usually made of pile or fleece for insulation.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is, working with others, to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
 

Activity #1
How Sea Otters Thrive

Did You Know?

Mt Fairweather

Captain James Cook named the tallest mountain in Glacier Bay, Mount Fairweather, in 1778. As Southeast Alaska is a temperate rainforest, with an average of only 50 sunny days a year, it would require fair-weather to see that mountain.