When I was a kid I adored sea otters. I had my very own otter plush and was ecstatic when I saw them in the wild on a trip to Monterey. I’m no longer quite as obsessed but they’re still my favorite sea creature. So when the Aquarium of the Pacific invited me to come by for a behind the scenes tour and animal encounter I knew exactly who I wanted to meet.
The Aquarium of the Pacific is located in the heart of Long Beach and I’ve made multiple visits over the years. Of course, none of those visits included a glimpse backstage. Needless to say, I was very excited when I met up with a pair of educational ambassadors and began my tour.
We started in a classroom where we learned some facts about sea otters and sea life in general.
We learned that sea otters are part of the badger family and are very aggressive. As such, we would be feeding them through a window on our encounter (a fact I was already aware of). Sea otter fur is also very thick as otters don’t have blubber. In fact it’s the densest animal fur and one square inch can cover an entire German Shepherd! I got to feel one of the above pelts and it was sooo soft.
We also had our very own tide pool to play in as we learned about the otter’s ocean environment.
Sea urchins are actually the favorite food of sea otters and they eat so much of it that their teeth are purple. It was fun to touch the urchins, sea stars and anemones as we learned all about them.
As we continued the tour we learned that we would be feeding more than sea otters on our visit.
We first visited a group of seahorses that reside backstage at the aquarium. These unique creatures were fun to watch as we provided them with their afternoon meal.
After this we headed out to the public area and fed tropical fish. While the seahorses were interesting they weren’t very hungry. The tropical fish more than made up for them as they zipped around the tank enjoying their treats.
Before we knew it it was time visit the otters. We met up with a mammalogist who taught us all about the otter’s diets. Because sea otters have a high metabolism they eat a large amount of food – about 25% of their body weight per day! At the aquarium they have four daily feedings and we would be providing the last one.
We approached the habitat and two of the otters, Betty and Ollie, were ready for their dinner.
They were super curious about their new visitors and were eagerly anticipating their meals. Through the window I fed them a mixture of squid, shrimp and clams.
Boy do those gals love to eat. Eventually, my bucket was empty and it was time to say goodbye.
It was truly a wonderful visit and something I will never forget. After loving sea otters for so many years I still can’t believe I got to actually feed them! I saw first hand how curious, energetic and incredibly smart they are. They are fascinating creatures and I’m so happy the Aquarium of the Pacific is caring for them (all otters living at the aquarium are unable to survive in the wild).
The Aquarium of the Pacific also offers encounters with sharks, sea lions, and penguins. Penguins are my second favorite sea creature so I’m going to have sign up for the adventure soon!