IT’S AN OTTER DISASTER!
Sea otters have to do two things to maintain their reputation: be incredibly cute and spend most of their time swimming on their backs. On the Internet there are plenty of photos of two otters holding paws or a mother with her offspring resting on her stomach—images that will soften even the hardest of hearts. But not the hardest of stones: The world’s smallest marine mammal requires a good rock to break open shells and get to the delicious meat inside. And that brings us to an otter’s real quest in life: to maintain its body temperature at a constant 100°F despite the ice-cold water it swims around in all day. Enhydra lutris is aided in this endeavor by the thickest fur of any animal—between 600,000 and 1 million hairs per square inch—but it still has to consume 25% of its body weight in shellfish just to stay alive. To obtain that much food, the sea otter has its routine down pat: briefly dive, return to the surface, place the food on its chest, and then pound away at it with a rock (which the clever creature will often store in one of the folds of its hide). Perhaps the look of dismay on this otter’s face means it can’t find its tool and must look for a new one.