Sea otter photos and fun facts for Sea Otter Awareness Week

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It's Sea Otter Awareness Week (September 22-28, 2013) and we're celebrating this amazing marine mammal species and its important role in the kelp forest ecosystem with this collection of cute photos and fun facts.

Let's start with an amazing fact about this fuzzy animal. Did you know that sea otters densest fur of any mammal? The thick fur is necessary for keeping the otter warm as it swims and floats in icy cold sea water. Though the density varies throughout their body, the thickest areas have over 1,000,000 hairs per square inch! A large male otter can have as many as 800 million hairs on his body.

This luxurious coat is part of why sea otters almost disappeared, hunted nearly to extinction. As they made their comeback, researchers learned just how important they are to marine ecosystems. Click through to find out how, and see more cute photos.

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