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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Why do otters hold hands?

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I saw this very cute video the other day. . .

Then I asked myself "Why are they holding hands?" So I did some research. I wanted to know if otters typically held hands and if there was a reason. I found my answer and history of the video from Vancouver Aquariam:

"Vancouver Aquarium sea otters, Nyac and Milo, were the stars on YouTube in 2007. A video showing the otters holding paws, a natural behaviour called "rafting", appeared on the Internet in March 2007. It has now been viewed over 11 million times by people all over the world. Aquarium visitor Cynthia Holmes, who was then a PhD student at the University of British Columbia, shot the video in 2002.

The tremendous response to Ms. Holmes's video on YouTube is a testament to the allure of sea otters. And that's good since they are a threatened species and need our help. Oil spills are one of the greatest threats to sea otters. Nyac, the blond, female otter in the video was a rare survivor of the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.

Sadly on September 23, 2008, Nyac died of chronic lymphocytic leukemia at the ripe old age of 20. She was one of the last surviving sea otters of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. According to the Aquarium’s Staff Veterinarian, Dr. Martin Haulena, even in her death Nyac is a very important animal because “Lymphocytic leukemia has not been previously reported in sea otters and because there is some association with contact with petroleum in other species … she’ll continue to provide vital information on the long-term effects of oil exposure.”

We hope that people watching this video will be inspired to take action - by choosing to drive a fuel-efficient car, for example - to help protect sea otters for our grandchildren."


"Although wild sea otters raft in areas without kelp, they will often tangle themselves in kelp to stay near kelp beds and will sometimes hold paws with other otters to form a raft. In B.C., sea otter rafts can consist of up to 150 resting individuals, but as this photo shows the rafts can be small too.

In Canada, disturbing sea otters in the wild is illegal. People must stay 100 m away. Watching female/pup rafts is likely very disruptive to them, according to sea otter expert Dr. Jane Watson.

"In fact the best place to get a good look at sea otters and their behaviour is at the Aquarium. Sea otters take to captivity well - the behaviours visitors see at the Aquarium, are the same sea otter behaviours you would see in the wild," she adds." Best Blogger Tips
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