Sea otters make their homes in the Pacific Ocean; they typically live in the colder waters near Alaska, Japan, British Columbia and the Northwest coast of the United States but may travel as far south as Mexico. Sea otters reside near the shore, inhabiting shallow coastal waters and occasionally venturing onshore. Two species of sea otters exist in the United States: the Northern sea otter and the Southern sea otter.
Although they belong to the same larger class of sea otters, subspecies in this weasel family inhabit different areas. Northern sea otters are found in the northern parts of the West coast. Their range extends as far north as Alaska and covers the Oregon and Washington coastlines. These sea otters may even make their way into the coastal waters of British Columbia in Canada. Southern sea otters, in contrast, cover a much shorter range. Their territory spans the length of California, and they may journey to the waters of Mexico.
Although sea otters live close to shore, they rarely venture onto land. Otters feed on aquatic organisms such as crabs, shrimp and other shellfish. They sometimes venture further out to sea in search of food and may dive over 300 feet to catch prey. Sea otters sometimes live in kelp and seaweed forests close to shore, which serve as anchors to keep the otters close to shore.