Centro de Estudios para la Conservación de Ecosistemas Marinos

Marine otter

 

 

Common names: 

English: Marine otter

Spanish: Chungungo

German: Küstenotter

 

Scientific name: 

Lontra felina

 

Size:

Length: 0.87 - 1.15 m 

Weight: 4 - 5.8 kg 

 

Habitat and distribution:

This species is found along the Pacific coast of South America from northern Perú (6°S), to Cape Horn in Chile (56°S), and Isla de Los Estados in Argentina. Lontra felina is the only species of the genus Lontra that exclusively occurs in marine habitats. The marine otter mainly inhabits rocky shorelines exposed to heavy seas and strong winds, unlike many other otters which prefer calmer waters. It appears to select zones with algae communities offering a wide diversity of prey species, and avoids sandy beaches.

 

Threats:

Marine otters have been hunted intensively for hundreds of years, and their original range has decreased considerably. Habitat destruction, pollution, and hunting are the main causes of their current low population numbers and endangered conservation status. The largest populations of marine otters remain along the west coast of Chiloé Island and in southern parts of the fjords where coastal habitat has been less affected by human presence.

 

Suggested references:

- Alvarez, R. & Medina-Vogel, G. (2008). Lontra felina. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>.

- Cabello, C. C. (1978). La nutria de Mar L. felina en la Isla de Chiloe. In: N. Duplaix (ed.),Proceedings of the first working meeting of the otter specialist group, pp. 108-119. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Morges, Switzerland.

- Iriarte, J. A. and Jaksic, F. M. (1986). The fur trade in Chile: An overview of seventy-five years of export data (1910-1984). Biological Conservation 38: 243-253.

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