Keep you and your dog safe; avoid sea otters on the beach

As the number of sea otters in Kachemak Bay increases, so does the potential for you to come across them on the beach. Sea otters have powerful jaws and sharp claws and can weigh over 100 pounds. A young, healthy otter that feels threatened will defend itself and can cause serious injury to you or your dog.

In addition to physical injury, sea otters can carry several disease-causing organisms, such as bacteria and parasites. A dog that comes in contact with a diseased sea otter can expose its owner.

Sea otters may come out of the water for a number of reasons, the most common are to escape rough water and to rest during periods of illness or injury. As spring approaches, sea otter pups may also start showing up on the beach. These pups may be orphaned or their mothers may be foraging to supply the enormous energetic needs of their growing pup.

Recently there have been reports of sea otters being attacked by dogs on beaches in the Homer area, including an otter that was found dead following an attack, and another that was visibly injured, but able to get back to the water.  Based on reports, these were likely to be animals that were very old and ill and probably unable to defend themselves against a dog attack.

Sea otters are a protected marine mammal. If you find an unattended pup, or an injured or dead sea otter please contact the Alaska Sea Life Center Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline at: 1-888-774-SEAL (7325).  

Kristin Worman

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Marine Mammals Management