Life as an otter pup is hard, but the babies get to catch a lift with mum before it’s time to learn life’s lessons. Otter pups are born throughout the year. They come into the world with their eyes open, with ten sharp teeth and with a fluffy, super-buoyant coat of fur. This traps so much air that the babies bob like a cork on the water’s surface – they don’t need to learn to swim straight away.
Pups spend a few months hitching a ride on mum, and are born with a typical sea otter’s giant appetite, so this means the female has to eat as much as she can to sustain the pup’s demand for milk.
When it’s time to hunt, the mother otter will either wrap her pup in kelp to anchor it in one spot or haul it out onto rocks (or even the swim deck of boats in harbour areas) to keep it safe while she looks for food. The pups shed their baby fur at around 13 weeks old, and they are fully independent between six and 12 months old. They learn everything from their mothers, such as how to find the best clams and how to crack shells on rocks to get to the meal inside it.