These southern sea otters are resting in kelp in the Elkhorn Slough, in Moss Landing, CA. Sea otters have the densest fur of any mammal – up to 1 million hairs per square inch – which keeps them warm in the chilly waters of the Pacific Ocean. Sea otters once numbered in the range of 16,000-20,000 individuals off the coast of California, from Baja to the Pacific Northwest. However, it was the desire for their luxurious fur that almost caused the species to become extinct in the late 19th and early 20th centuries due to hunters who prized the sea otter pelt. In fact, in the early 20th century, sea otters were thought to be extinct along the California coast until a small raft of about 50 sea otters was discovered off the coast of Big Sur in 1938. Sea otters have been protected since 1977, listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Now there are approximately 2,800 sea otters living off the California coast.
Technical Details: Canon 7D, Canon 500L + 1.4x, ISO 800, f5.6, 1/640 sec.