Photo: The importance of sea otters

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Our photo of the day reveals a mom and her pup hard at work being sea otters.

Sure, they float and frolic, sun and swim ... but all the while, sweet sea otters are playing an important role in the order of things. Photographer Sam McMillan, who took this wonderful photo in Morro Bay, California, explains:

"Sea otters are a keystone species, meaning their role in their environment has a greater effect than other species. As predators, sea otters are critical to maintaining the balance of the near-shore kelp ecosystems. Without sea otters, the undersea animals they prey on would devour the kelp forests off the coast that provide cover and food for many other marine animals."

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