【Series】 Spirits of the Kamuy landscape

In this series, the transformation of four seasons will be introduced through articles on wild animals that are active in the deep forests, marshes, and ocean as if they were being cradled by “Kamui,” which means deity in the Ainu language. The first installment in the series is the Yezo sika deer of Notsuke Peninsula. (Text and photographs by Tadanobu Shigeru from the Kushiro Branch News Secti

Sep. 12

Special feature

【Series】 Spirits of the Kamuy landscape (44) Sea Otter’s grooming protects the young

A sea otter pup sleeping on its mother’s abdomen off the coast of Moyururi Island

Lying comfortably on its mother’s abdomen is a baby sea otter (pup). As its fur is still soft, it is unable to dive beneath the water.

The pup’s fur is meticulously groomed by the mother otter; air is allowed to flow between the hairs, providing buoyancy and insulation to protect it from the cold sea water. As the mother dives beneath the water in search of food, the pup floats silently on the surface of the water as it waits for her return.

When the distance between the pup and its mother increases as she concentrates on searching for food, the lonely cries of the pup are similar to those of a kitten. When the mother has eaten her fill, she returns to the pup, which immediately climbs on her abdomen and begins to suckle. While suckling, the mother continues to groom the pup’s fur. When it has finished drinking its mother’s milk, the pup drifts off to sleep.

The child-rearing mother sea otter’s cycle of searching for food, suckling and resting continues until the pup becomes independent.
(Photo and words by Shigeru Tadanobu)

Location

Moyururi Island

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