The marine otter (Lontra felina) is a rare and poorly known South American mammal of the weasel family (Mustelidae). The scientific name means "otter cat", and in Spanish, the marine otter is also often referred to as gato marino: "marine cat". The marine otter (while spending much of its time out of the water) only lives in saltwater, coastal environments and rarely ventures into freshwater or estuarine habitats. This saltwater exclusivity is unlike most other otter species, except for the almost fully aquatic sea otter (Enhydra lutris) of the north Pacific.
|Marine otter range|
The marine otter is one of the smallest otters and the smallest marine mammal, measuring 87 to 115 cm (34 to 45 in) from the nose to the tip of the tail and weighs 3 to 5 kg (6.6 to 11.0 lb). The tail measures 30 to 36 cm (12 to 14 in). Its fur is coarse, with guard hairs measuring up to 2 cm (0.79 in) in length covering dense, insulating underfur. The marine otter is dark brown above and on the sides, and fawn on the throat and underside.
The marine otter has webbed paws and strong claws. The ventral side (underside) of the paws are partially covered in fur. It has 36 teeth and a dental formula of 3.1.3-4.1. The teeth are developed for slicing instead of crushing. The marine otter does not display sexual dimorphism.
Marine otters are found in littoral areas of southwestern South America, close to shore and in the intertidal areas of northern Peru (from the port of Chimbote), along the entire coast of Chile, and the extreme southern reaches of Argentina. Occasional vagrant sightings still occur as far afield as the Falkland Islands.
The marine otter mainly inhabits rocky shorelines with abundant seaweed and kelp, and infrequently visits estuaries and freshwater rivers. It appears to select habitats with surprisingly high exposure to strong swells and winds, unlike many other otters, which prefer calmer waters. Caves and crevices in the rocky shorelines may provide them with the cover they need, and often a holt will have no land access at high tide. Marine otters avoid sandy beaches.
Marine otters are most often seen individually or in small groups of up to three. They are difficult to spot, swimming low in the water, exposing only their heads and backs. It is not known whether they are territorial, as males are occasionally seen fighting, yet fights have also been observed even between mating pairs. Fighting takes place on prominent rocks above the waterline, which are also used for resting, feeding, and grooming. Marine otters have also been observed feeding cooperatively on large fish, but it is not known how common the practice is.
The otters are diurnal.
Marine otters may be monogamous or polygamous, and breeding occurs in December or January. Litters of two to five pups are born in January, February or March after a gestation period of 60 to 70 days. The pups remain with their mother for about 10 months of parental care, and can sometimes be seen on the mother's belly as she swims on her back, a practice similar to that of the sea otter. Parents bring food to the pups and teach them to hunt.
Marine otters are rare and are protected under Peruvian, Chilean, and Argentine law. In the past, they were extensively hunted both for their fur and due to perceived competition with fisheries. Hunting extirpated them from most of Argentina and the Falkland Islands. Poaching is still a problem, but one of unknown magnitude. It is unknown how many marine otters exist in the wild or what habitats should be preserved to encourage their recovery. Marine otters were listed under CITES Appendix I in 1976, and are listed as endangered by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The Asiatic linsang (Prionodon) is a genus comprising two species native to Southeast Asia: the banded linsang (Prionodon linsang) and the spotted linsang (Prionodon pardicolor). Prionodon is considered a sister taxon of the Felidae.Cabo de Hornos National Park
Cabo de Hornos National Park is a protected area in southern Chile that was designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2005, along with Alberto de Agostini National Park. The world’s southernmost national park, it is located 12 hours by boat from Puerto Williams in the Cape Horn Archipelago, which belongs to the Commune of Cabo de Hornos in the Antártica Chilena Province of Magallanes y Antártica Chilena Region.
The park was created in 1945 and includes the Wollaston Archipelago and the Hermite Islands. It covers 63,093 hectares (155,906 acres) and is run by the Corporacion Nacional Forestal (CONAF), the Chilean body that governs all national parks in Chile.Chañaral Island
Isla Chañaral (sometimes referred to as Isla Chanaral or Chanaral Island) is located 6 km off-shore from the northern Central Chilean coast, some 100 km north of the city of La Serena. Together with Isla Choros and Isla Damas, the island forms the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, which is administered by the Chilean Forestry Corporation. All three islands support populations of Humboldt penguins, but are also habitat for several other rare and endangered animal species such as the Peruvian diving petrel or the South American marine otter. In recent years the reserve has experienced a strong increase in tourist activities, mainly due to being an important feeding ground in the sunner months of different marine mammal species like fin whales, blue whales, humpback whales, and bottlenose dolphins that reside in the waters of the reserve. The local fishermen formed an association in cooperation with the National Tourism Service Sernatur to conduct whale watching activities in a sustainable manner, implementing responsible whale watching guidelines.
Isla Chañaral is the biggest of the reserve’s islands. Access to the island restricted by permit only. The island consists of two plateau levels. The main plateau between 50 and 70 meters above sea level is divided into a western and an eastern part by a second high plateau (>100 m). The vegetation of the plateaus differs considerably. While the main plateau is dominated by shrub and cacti the high plateau has a barren appearance with only few small cactus aggregations.Cordillera de Oncol
The Cordillera de Oncol (sometimes called Valdivian Coast Range) is a mountain range, located along the Pacific coast in southern Chile. It is part of the Chilean Coast Range System (Cordillera de la Costa). It was named for the city of Valdivia. The highest point of the range is Cerro Oncol, at 715 m.Enhydritherium terraenovae
Enhydritherium terraenovae is an extinct marine otter endemic to North America that lived during the Miocene through Pliocene epochs from ~9.1–4.9 Ma. (AEO), existing for approximately 4.2 million years.
The ancestral lineage of Enhydritherium terraenova can be traced to Africa and Eurasia, but no clear route of migration can be determined according to Thompson et al.Ferret-badger
Ferret-badgers are the five species of the genus Melogale, which is the only genus of the monotypic mustelid subfamily Helictidinae.
Bornean ferret-badger (Melogale everetti)
Chinese ferret-badger (Melogale moschata)
Javan ferret-badger (Melogale orientalis)
Burmese ferret-badger (Melogale personata)
Vietnam ferret-badger (Melogale cucphuongensis)Indian brown mongoose
The Indian brown mongoose (Herpestes fuscus) looks similar to the short-tailed mongoose from Southeast Asia and is sometimes believed to be only a subspecies of this latter. The Indian brown mongoose is found in southwest India and Sri Lanka.List of semiaquatic tetrapods
This is a list of tetrapods that are semiaquatic; that is, while being at least partly terrestrial, they spend part of their life cycle or a significant fraction of their time in water as part of their normal behavior, and/or obtain a significant fraction of their food from an aquatic habitat. The very earliest tetrapods, such as Ichthyostega, were semiaquatic, having evolved from amphibious lobe-finned fish.
Some marine mammals, such as the marine otter, the polar bear and pinnipeds, are semiaquatic, while others, such as the sea otter, cetaceans and sirenians, are fully aquatic. The only fully aquatic nonmarine mammals are several manatees (the Amazonian manatee and some populations of African manatee) and certain small cetaceans (river dolphins, the tucuxi, and some populations of Irrawaddy dolphin and finless porpoise). No bird species is fully aquatic, as all must lay and incubate their amniotic eggs, as well as begin raising their young, on land or ice. Similarly among marine reptiles, sea turtles are almost fully aquatic, but must come ashore to lay eggs. Marine iguanas and partly marine crocodiles (such as the saltwater crocodile and the American crocodile) are all semiaquatic. Most sea snakes are ovoviviparous (live-bearing) and fully aquatic (the exceptions being the oviparous, semiaquatic sea kraits). A few freshwater snakes are also ovoviviparous and fully aquatic (e.g., Erpeton tentaculatum and Acrochordidae), but the majority are semiaquatic. Most amphibians have an aquatic larval stage and are at least semiaquatic for that reason, but there are many exceptions to this generalization.
The aquatic component of a semiaquatic species' lifestyle may be either obligatory or facultative to varying degrees (examples of the latter are the Arctic fox, jaguar and green iguana).
Note: Dagger symbols, "†", have been used to indicate a listed taxon is extinct.Lontra
Lontra is a genus of otters from the Americas.Lontra weiri
Lontra weiri (Weir's otter) is a fossil species in the carnivoran family Mustelidae from the Hagerman Fossil Beds of Idaho. It shared its habitat with Satherium piscinarium, a probable ancestor of the giant otter of South America. It is named in honor of musician Bob Weir, and is the oldest known member of its genus. Prior to its discovery, Lontra was thought to have evolved from Lutra licenti, which dates from the Pleistocene of East Asia.Lutrogale
Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.Marine Mammal Protection Act
The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was the first act of the United States Congress to call specifically for an ecosystem approach to wildlife management. It was signed into law on October 21, 1972 by President Richard Nixon and took effect 60 days later on December 21, 1972. MMPA prohibits the "taking" of marine mammals, and enacts a moratorium on the import, export, and sale of any marine mammal, along with any marine mammal part or product within the United States. The Act defines "take" as "the act of hunting, killing, capture, and/or harassment of any marine mammal; or, the attempt at such." The MMPA defines harassment as "any act of pursuit, torment or annoyance which has the potential to either: a. injure a marine mammal in the wild, or b. disturb a marine mammal by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, which includes, but is not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering." The MMPA provides for enforcement of its prohibitions, and for the issuance of regulations to implement its legislative goals.Mustelidae
The Mustelidae (; from Latin mustela, weasel) are a family of carnivorous mammals, including weasels, badgers, otters, ferrets, martens, mink, and wolverines, among others. Mustelids are diverse and the largest family in the order Carnivora, suborder Caniformia. Mustelidae comprises about 56-60 species across eight subfamilies.Mustelinae
Mustelinae is a subfamily of family Mustelidae, which includes weasels, ferrets amd minks.It was formerly defined in a paraphyletic manner to also include wolverines, martens, and many other mustelids, to the exclusion of the otters (Lutrinae).Nyctereutes
Nyctereutes is an Old World genus of the family Canidae, consisting of just one living species, the raccoon dog of East Asia. Nyctereutes appeared about 9.0 million years ago (Mya), with all but one species becoming extinct before the Pleistocene.
Native to East Asia, the raccoon dog has been intensively bred for fur in Europe and especially in Russia during the twentieth century. Specimens have escaped or have been introduced to increase production and formed populations in Eastern Europe. It is currently expanding rapidly in the rest of Europe, where its presence is undesirable because it is considered to be a harmful and invasive species.Otter
Otters are carnivorous mammals in the subfamily Lutrinae. The 13 extant otter species are all semiaquatic, aquatic or marine, with diets based on fish and invertebrates. Lutrinae is a branch of the weasel family Mustelidae, which also includes badgers, honey badgers, martens, minks, polecats, and wolverines.Pan de Azúcar National Park
Pan de Azúcar National Park is a national park of Chile. The park straddles the border between the Antofagasta Region and the Atacama Region. Its name, Parque Nacional Pan de Azúcar, means "sugar loaf national park".Prionailurus
Prionailurus is a genus of spotted, small wild cats native to Asia. Forests are their preferred habitat; they feed on small mammals, reptiles and birds, some also on aquatic wildlife.
Extant Carnivora species