IUCN status: Endangered
Alias: sea cat, huallaca, chingungo
Predators: birds of prey, orcas, sharks
Threats: habitat loss, persecution, poaching, accidental trapping
Size: 87-115 cm (body 57-79 cm, tail 30-36 cm)
Weight: 3-6 kg
The smallest of the new world species, the marine otter is also a very special otter – it is the only exclusively marine species apart from the sea otter. It lives on rocky coasts with an abundance of caves which it uses for shelter and dens. It is known to never stray more than 30 m inland. It has long whiskers and a dark coat and it prefers a diet of crustaceans, octopus and molluscs during the day, although slow fish will also be eaten. The marine otter is monogamous, mating for life. Like the Southern river otter, its habitat is extremely fragmented and the areas in which this otter no longer occurs increase every year. Conflict with fishermen who view it as a competitor also take a heavy toll and this otter’s numbers are steadily decreasing.
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