Wonder + Wildness

Chasing wonder on a science guided journey through the natural world in search of meaning, connections, and the courage to hope

Sea Otters Have Secret Skin Pockets in Their Armpits

Yes, you read that right. Move over marsupials, you’re not the only mammals with skin pockets.

Like salty old pirates, sea otters are only found at sea, rarely go on land, and have there very own treasure chest…in their armpits.

Of course, the inevitable question is, “why?”

Sea otters have an adorable tendency to float on their backs, but that floating is mostly functional, often so that they can use their bellies as a sort of tray table for a seafood feast. Kind of like those restaurants where they dump a bucket of shellfish, corn, and potatoes onto a big white plastic sheet and everyone where’s a bib.

Urchins, crabs, mussels, clams, starfish, fish fish, various crustaceans, you name it!

Now, you may have noticed that virtually all of those things require two things in order to be eaten: 1) retrieval from some sub-surface surface, like a rock or a pier post, and 2) they require some sort of cracking of the open to get to the juicy, delicious innards.

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s sounds pretty exhausting to have to swim down over and over and over again just to get basically bite sized snacks. Not to mention having to swim back down for a rock or something to crack it all open with. If only an otter had, I don’t know, pockets!

Conveniently for the otter, they do! Sea Otters use these flaps of fur under their fluffy arms for stowing away food, rocks, and various other items of interest and intrigue—like somewhat shinier rocks.

I don’t know about you, it I feel like we got the short end of the evolutionary stick with this one. I mean, how awesome would skin pockets be?

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