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How Sea Otters Help Protect Underwater Meadows?

Sea Otters Help Protect Underwater Meadows
How Sea Otters Help Protect Underwater Meadows?

Sea otters are one of the smallest marine mammals who are known for their predatory feeding habits and their plush fur. These animals feed upon many small sea species such as clams and sea urchins.

These predators go to the seafloor in search of food. The seafloor is covered with thick grass beds which are home to countless marine species. The underwater grass beds that attract these sea otters the most are known as eelgrass meadows.

Eelgrass is continuously at a threat of extinction due to the rising ocean temperature and the acidification of seawater.

Sea otters usually prey in these eelgrass meadows and with a specific way of finding their pray. They feel the seafloor with their whiskers and paws. Once they find the clams in the meadows, they break their shells open with their paws.

As a result, the eelgrass beds get holes and cracks that result in the germination of their seeds. Basically, the sea otters work as the sea tractors who plough the eelgrass fields.

All About Underwater Meadows

The underwater meadows that sea otters use predominantly consist of eelgrass. This marine grass has two major ways of reproduction. It may increase the population through vegetative multiplication where a rhizome develops into another plant.

The other way of plantation is the common land plant way of sexual multiplication where male and female plants take part in the fertilization of the seed and thus reproduce more plants.

The key difference between the plantation thus produced is the type of plants. Through vegetative multiplication, the eelgrass only produces identical plants whereas, with the sexual multiplication, various eelgrass species produce that help the already endangered marine plant to self-preserve.

The sea otters have an important role to play in the process. They provide a chance for more eelgrass seeds to germinate through their prey hunt. The digging and searching of the seafloor result in a clear field for the eelgrass to flourish.

Sea otters are playing their part in the preservation of the marine ecosystem while they may seem as predatory mammals who do not have anything major to offer other than their fur.


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