Monday, January 12, 2015

How to survive marine otters in icy waters without becoming hypothermic.

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Many of the mammals that live in the ocean â€" and that during the winter have to face icy waters â€" turn to body fat to keep the internal temperature constant, as in the case of whales, walruses, dolphins, sea lions and many others.

The Sea Otter is also a mammal that swims in freezing waters in winter and not to die of cold has to maintain an internal temperature of about 37.7 degrees Celsius, almost twice the water temperature where nothing. But how does this animal to keep body temperature constant and avoid hypothermia?

Unlike the large mammals, the Otter is small, which means you're always losing heat. In evolutionary terms, the Otter is relatively recent, having only appeared there are 1.6 million years. Already the whales emerged there are 50 million years, the sea lions between 23 to 29 million years, which is enough time to adapt to life in the ocean.

The secret of the otters to cope with low temperatures is fur, which is the thickest of all the animals on the planet, about a million by 2.5 inches square, writes the TreeHugger. The hair, which is waterproof, lets still imprison air near the surface of the skin, which helps keep the temperature and gives the characteristic bright aspect of the otters when they're in the water.

It was also this hair that almost caused the extinction of the species. During the 19th century marine otters were hunted extensively almost to extinction, for the manufacture of hats and coats.

Although the population of otters have recovered gradually over the years, the International Union for conservation of nature continues to classify these animals with the status of threatened. Currently, the greatest danger for the otters is not hunting for the production of clothing, since the species is protected internationally, but oil spills.

The oil interferes with the impermeability of the hair, in addition to making the otters patients due to toxins that they ingest.

Marine otters play an important role in terrestrial ecosystem and mitigate some of the environmental impacts of human activity. The otters help protect the kelp-Kelp algae, an order large algae that belong to the class Phaeophyceae â€" of sea urchins, which in turn slow down global warming.

Thus, it is important to protect this animal, not only for not perish but also to mitigate global warming.

Foto: goingslo/Creative Commons

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