the last week of september is sea otter awareness week. where most marine mammals rely on a layer of insulating blubber to keep warm in the water, sea otters make use of their dense fur coat.
in fact, their fur is so thick and soft that for centuries humans have hunted the animal. by 1929, sea otters had been virtually eradicated from alaska to california. and while populations of the animal are currently making a remarkable comeback in british columbia, they nevertheless remain an endangered species.
sea otters play a vital role in their aquatic ecosystem. in the absence of the animal, sea urchin populations explode, leading to the eradication of kelp forests, which in turn affects fish, sea birds and even eagle populations.
photos by tom and pat leeson (peekaboo otter), veronica craft (vogue otter), hal beral (sleepy otter), brian maxwell (cuddling albino otter), jeff foot (super excited screaming otter), matt maran (shouting otter), joe robertson (holding hands otters) and suzi eszterhas (happy otter)