Sea Otter by Vivi Steels

Posted on September 1, 2015 at 1:20 PM

Sea Otter


Bands of amber kelp

anchor furred body

floating on back,

rafting against tug of tide

liquorice nose lifted,

small eyes closed,

as sunbathing under settled sky

meals from sea’s kitchen

gained on diving trips –

starfish, squid, crab, abalone –

are prepared

shell bashed against stone tool

resting on rounded belly

like hammer on anvil,

prising open juicy riches

with webbed paws.


Grooming waterproof coat,

blowing air bubbles

to inflate own lifejacket,

rolling close to female with kit,

who rides clinging, squealing

when she disappears for food

beneath choppy waves.


He kidnaps suckling

forcing mate to share catches,

nuzzles her streaked coat,

returns offspring,

then floating on backs,

rafting against roll of tide

under settled sky,

they sunbathe side by side.


Published in ORBIS No: 123 – February 2003

I've included this poem as I have been watching The Big Blue Live on the BBC and have been so entranced by the Sea Otters.  They are one of my favourite animals.  I wrote this poem in 2002 but it does detail the behaviour where the kits are kidnapped to force the female to give up her food.



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