KAH-LAN, THE ADVENTUROUS SEA OTTER
ISBN 978-1-55039-244-9 (paperback)
It can be ordered from your local bookstore or directly from
Sono Nis Press or www.amazon.com
Illustrated by: Sheena Lott
Published by: Sono Nis Press (order here)
Young sea otter Kah-Lan is hungry. He is sure there are big crabs near the point, but his mother won't let him out of her sight. One day, he sees his chance. Soon he and his friend Yamka are swimming around the point—right into danger! Will they ever make it back home?
"As a former teacher, I believe this would be a wonderful addition to studying sea life, appropriate to studies of family and friendships, to discussions of competition, danger, decision-making and individuation." —Margaret Hope
Reviews of KAH-LAN THE ADVENTUROUS SEA OTTER
Sea Otter Crafts and Learning Activities for Children
Kah-Lan Student Activity Guide:
Excerpt from Chapter One
Splash! Kah-Lan kicks his webbed hind flippers and dives into the cold sea. Yamka chases his bubble trail.
Kah-Lan darts to the surface. He bursts out of the water, jumping over a floating sea-tree bulb. Its yellowish-green blades sparkle on the calm ocean. The young sea otter dives again.
When Kah-Lan's head pops above the water, Yamka tackles him. Her white teeth flash as she play-bites his face. Kah-Lan breaks free. He speed-weaves among the sea otter mothers and pups to the edge of their sea-tree forest. He's the oldest male in this raft. His mother chases him and hisses a warning to stay inside the forest—again.
Kah-Lan ignores her warning for a moment, staring out to sea. There he would be free to explore, without her hounding. He could hunt for big crabs!
Karen Autio at one of her favourite spots—where the rescued and non-releasable sea otters live at the Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, B.C.
—Will Autio photo
Karen Autio fell in love with sea otters in 1984 while visiting the Vancouver Aquarium. The following year she took her first children's literature course, for which she wrote and illustrated a story about Kah-Lan, an adventurous sea otter. Over the years Karen revised her story and sent it out to publishers. As determined as Kah-Lan, she persisted until reaching her goal: a book in readers' hands.
About Sea Otters
Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are marine mammals that live in the North Pacific Ocean, along the coasts of Japan, Russia, Canada, and the United States (Alaska and as far south as California). A few hundred years ago sea otters were plentiful. Then hunters discovered their fur, the thickest coat of all animals. By the early 1900s sea otters were nearly extinct, and governments stepped in to protect the few small, isolated groups that remained. In Alaska, the sea otter population grew significantly over the following decades, and in the 1960s and 1970s, some Alaskan sea otters were relocated to suitable coastal waters elsewhere in Alaska as well as to British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. Today there are approximately 110,000 sea otters in the world. In the United States, sea otters are listed as threatened, while in Canada they are listed as a species of Special Concern (a recent improvement over their earlier designations of Endangered, then Threatened).
These well-adapted animals spend their whole lives in the cold ocean near shore. Sea otters dive for food, eat, groom, play, float, mate, give birth, and sleep in the water, and haul out on land only when injured, ill, or in extreme danger. Their homes are in kelp forests (large seaweed, or as Kah-Lan calls them, sea-trees) and bays, usually in rocky areas.
The kelp forests where sea otters live also provide homes for fish, hiding places for grey whale calves, spawning grounds for herring, and protection against shoreline erosion and even climate change. Kelp is also food for sea urchins. By feeding on the sea urchins that eat kelp, sea otters prevent sea urchins from destroying these important kelp forests.
Sea otters can get tangled in fishing nets and drown, and pollution, disease, and parasites are serious threats. The greatest danger of all is an oil spill. Oil quickly soils a sea otter's coat, allowing cold water to reach the sea otter's skin. As the sea otter tries to clean its fur, it breathes and swallows the harmful oil. After an oil spill, a sea otter will not survive without help from marine mammal rescue experts.
It is illegal to approach, touch, or move sea otters. People should stay at least 100 metres away from sea otters. This is for the safety of the animals and the public. Sea otters have extremely sharp teeth and powerful jaws—designed to crack hard-shelled prey—and therefore their strong bite can crush a person's hand, easily breaking bones. As the number of sea otters grows and the animals spread farther along North America's west coast, interactions with humans will become more common. If you discover a sea otter in distress, contact the nearest marine mammal rescue agency.
Photo taken by Karen Autio at the Vancouver Aquarium
Take a look at sea otters in action:
Vancouver Aquarium Sea Otter Cam
Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Otter Cam
Elkhorn Slough OtterCam
Check out these links for more information about sea otters:
Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Aquatic Species at Risk - Sea Otter
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Marine Mammals Management, Alaska Region
West Coast Sea Otter Recovery
Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre
Monterey Bay Aquarium
The Fantastic Fur of Sea Otters
Sea otters' effect on climate change:
"Hi everyone. Just wanted to show you my new pup." at Elkhorn Slough
World's toughest job: sea otter groomer
Sea Otter Crafts:
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