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Rescued sea otter Ellie resting in a pile of "kelp" at Shedd Aquarium

Sea Otter

The sea otters are the best-groomed animals at Shedd—and in the ocean. It’s a matter of survival. Instead of blubber to keep them warm in the cold Pacific Ocean, these marine mammals have the densest fur of any animal—up to 1 million hairs per square inch. They groom their long outer guard hairs to keep water out and fluff the undercoat to hold warm air next to their skin. And to generate body heat, they eat 25 percent of their body weight daily!

Rescued sea otter pup Ellie sits surrounded by toys behind the scenes at Shedd.

Finding a secure home at Shedd

Rescued otters like Ellie are strong reminders of the threats sea otters face in the wild. Ellie was found abandoned on a Carmel, California, beach at just 4 weeks old. Sea otter experts at Monterey Bay Aquarium rehabilitated her until she found a permanent home at Shedd. Our experts have offered rescue and rehabilitation care for sea otters since the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989. In addition to Ellie, Shedd's current sea otter group also includes rescues Kiana, Luna, Cooper and Watson.

“One of my favorite memories of working with the sea otters is going outside after a heavy snow and bringing it inside to put all over their habitat. They rolled around in it and ate it for hours!”

Duke Stacey, animal care specialist

Meet the sea otters

Glistening dark bodies roll in the water. Light-furred faces pop to the surface, then dive back in. For someone without a trainer’s eye, Shedd Aquarium’s sea otters look an awful lot alike. And they seldom stay still long enough for you to try to discern differences. To help you figure out who's who, here are each otter’s key characteristics.