Sea Otter Resting on a Rock

USA, Afognak Island, Kodiak Archipelago (AK) Sea otter (Enhydra lutris)

Not long ago I have uploaded a new gallery to my Website showcasing images of certain Mustelids (Mustelidae), which is a family comprising some 54 species of carnivorous mammals such as otters, badgers, martens, wolverines and weasels. If you are interested, feel free to check it out.

The image on this post is of a sea otter (Enhydra lutris) in the Kodiak Archipelago, in Alaska.

Sea otters are members of the weasel family. They spend most of their time in the water (they even give birth in it!) but, in some instances such as the one recorded in the image above, they come ashore to sleep or rest.

Sea otters often float at the water’s surface, lying on their backs, often with a clam and a rock. Otters will place the rock on their chests, and repeatedly smash the shellfish against it until it breaks open so they can feed on the mussel. Otters sometimes float in forests of kelp in which they entangle themselves to provide anchorage in the swirling sea. Given all the time they spend in the water, sea otters have thick underfur that traps air to form an insulating layer against the chilly waters: this is particularly important as sea otters have no insulating fat (source: National Geographic).

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)


22 thoughts on “Sea Otter Resting on a Rock

  1. Tracy Lee Karner

    He reminds me of one of the muppets–looks like he’s crooning a tune. I can just hear him breaking into a funny-voiced version of a folk song, something like,
    “There was a man lived in the moon,
    And his name was Aiken Drum.”

    Can you tell I like your wildlife photos best. Something about the expressions you capture is intriguing….

    1. Stefano Post author

      Hahahah! You’re right, Tracy: I can totally see that! 🙂
      Thank you also for noticing what I try to do with my wildlife photos: show something about the animal’s self, what goes through its mind on that fleeting moment… I am so glad you noticed that! 🙂

  2. Tracy Lee Karner

    I think it’s most rewarding to an artist/writer when the viewer/reader sees or experiences what the maker/creator intended. It’s achieves the meeting of minds, the communication, that we’re striving for when we make or craft something… Good job!

  3. ChgoJohn

    I really do enjoy your wildlife photos and posts, Stefano. You capture your subjects so expertly that I have to keep reminding myself that these creatures are wild and not posing for you. You must have the patience of Job. Thanks for this post and pointing me to the new gallery. I enjoyed it all very much. 🙂

    1. Stefano Post author

      Thank you so much, John: I am so happy you enjoyed my post and new gallery! 🙂
      Yes, wildlife photography requires plenty of patience but it also rewards you with nice images if you can wait and be ready for “the moment”. 🙂

    1. Stefano Post author

      Dear B, I am glad you like my “quick facts” about the species I photograph! I thought they would add another dimension to the image and am happy you thought so too! Thank you for your kind words as usual! 🙂

  4. kbvollmarblog

    I agree it`s amazing how much I learn by your posts about wilflife. Quite a lot of the animals, you photographed so well, I have never seen before and I like very much your short but significant descriptions. Thank you very much 🙂
    With a big hug from the North Norfolk coast
    I hope you have had a great holiday at Nantucket. I envy you 😉 I would love to visit that old whaler place as well.

    1. Stefano Post author

      Dear Klausbernd,
      Thank you very much: I am glad you like my “quick facts” about the wildlife I photograph. As I mentioned to B, I was hoping they would add another dimension to just the image itself. Your comment makes me happy that you found that information helpful! 🙂
      Regarding Nantucket, given your and Dina’s connections to whaling, I should you should both plan a trip to this side of the Pond to visit it at some point: Francesca and I would love to join you! 🙂
      A big hug,

  5. Dina

    Dear Stefano,
    I’m envious too! 🙂 Wow, I have read a lot more about Nantucket and what I see, I like so much…

    You’re presenting a truly wonderful capture of the sea otter, the expression is great, like he’s communicating with you. I love the shallow depth of field. Did you use the magnificent 200-400mm?

    Would you mind telling us the aperture, shutterspeed and Iso, please. You know, I’m eager to learn and I’m still studying every day and you’re my role model.:-) It’s great, great fun.

    At the moment I’m chewing on which lense to get next. When I bought the D800, the shop assistent adviced me to get the Tamron 24-70mm 2.8 instead of the Nikon one, it’s the better quality, better price, best in test…. I didn’t feel like getting a Tamron right there, you know what I mean…:-) so I got the 70-200mm 2.8 as well as the 24-24mm. What do you think? The 50mm 1.8 is also very good tested, some prefer it to the 1.4.
    If you were in my shoes, which lense you’d get to fill the gap? Sorry for taking up so much of your precious time, Stefano. Your advice is highly appreciated and we’re all so happy and excited! 🙂

    Biiig hug to you all

    1. Stefano Post author

      Dear Dina,

      As I said to Klausbernd, you two should plan on this side of the pond and we could go together! 🙂

      You know, when I started posting my images I had thought I would not publish the technical information, not because I wanted to keep it for myself, but because I thought people should just focus on the image itself, regardless of what camera/lens it was taken with. However, your comments made me change my mind and from now on I am also going to publish the technical information, so other photographers who may be interested in the technical aspects of the shots may have htat information readily available.

      Anyway, regarding this image it was taken with a Nikon D2X and the Nikon 200-400 VR with a shutter speed of 1/250 sec at f/5.6 and ISO 500 on a tripod with a gimbal head on a boat on a rainy day. That’s the most complete information I can come up with! 🙂

      Regarding your choice, I can only offer you my own thought process, which however (I warn you!) is certainly not the truth carved in stone, but just my own opinion 🙂 As I mentioned to you on another occasion, one of the things I value most about spending the dollars that professional camera equipment commands is reliability. If I spend that kind of money I want to have the peace of mind that the equipment I buy is sturdy and dependable and it will not let me down in adverse conditions. You know, sometimes when I travel I see certain people who are all worried about their consumer cameras and lenses, so much so that they get nasty of someone puts a bag on top of their camera cases on the overhead compartment of a plane (!!!) or whenever there is the slightest drizzle of rain or flurry of snow. That’s what I pay for: I don’t worry of my equipment bounces around on 4WD vehicles on the savannah or is on the deck of a boat in Japan’s freezing weather or is in the sands of Utah or under torrential rain in Alaska. I don’t want to have to worry about that. I pay extra money and I expoect my equipment to keep working as it should under those trying conditions, as mine has always done, no exception whatsoever.

      I say this not to diss Tamron, which I think makes some quality lenses. But to me Nikon is king if you own a Nikon system, of course. And therefore I (personally) would stick to a Nikon lens because I KNOW I can rely on it, and I do not have to guess/hope I will be able to.

      Anyway, you can decide for yourself by reading these tests/reviews from sources whom I trust (look especially at the MTF charts, which indicate sharpness of the lens at the various focal lengths/apertures): and–test-report There is also an interesting comparison test between Nikon’s and Tamron’s 24-70 here:

      Other options that you might consider are certainly the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 (a wonderful, very sharp and inexpensive prime – I own one and it is great) or a used Nikon AS-S 28-70 f/2.8 (this is the predecessor of the 24-70: I have owned one for years and am still using it nowadays with D800 as I am very happy with it; it is not as sharp as the 24-70, but it is very close and you can have it at an interesting price nowadays – if you are interested, here is a review with the MTF charts:

      One more (unrelated) thing that I would warmly recommend that you get is a software called Fo-Cal ( this is the easiest and most reliable software I know to calibrate your D800’s AF system with each one of your lenses. While with cameras with fewer MP’s AF calibration was much lesser of an issue, with the D800 you really can tell the difference and if you do not calibrate, you may be led to believe that some (or all) of your lenses are not sharp enough. Instead (at least in most cases) they are just back focusing or front focusing and Fo-Cal does just that: it checks how each of YOUR lenses behaves and then tells the D800 to compensate accordingly, and the D800 is pre-programmed to remember the amount of compensation for each of your lenses, so you do it once and then forget about it. I promise from personal experience that the difference is sometimes mind boggling!

      Hope it helps, dear Dina 🙂

      A big hug right back at you,

      1. Dina

        Dear Stefano

        THANK YOU! 🙂 I have absolutely no idea how to repay you all this valuable information, Stefano, you’re really a greatgreat help. Here comes a big hug! Also because you have the gift to answer the questions I didn’t ask. I’ll get the Nikon lens, no doubt, any longer. I suppose I was doubtful about the Tamron lens, for various reasons. Thank you so much for the link to the comparison! I’m happy to see, you are satisfoed with the 1.8 so I’ll get that one too.

        This sort of the takes the burden off my shoulders. 🙂 BTW, I read an interesting post about photowalking this morning; it literary took a burden off my shoulders too; the photographer wrote taht he only took one camera and one lens and no tripod with him when he went out for long, somewhat ambitious walks- it saves his nerves, is good for his back and it sharpens his creativity to get good and interesting shots with one lens he settled for. We’re going to the very scienic Lake District you see, and my back was already aching by the thought. 🙂

        I’m happy to see I could inspire you to present the camera/lens-informations to the photos. I think this is most interesting when I see a good photo today. “Now, how did he do this?” Your photos are so excellent, I don’t think a person with great interest in advanced photographie just have a quick glance at your photo, say or write nice and klick to the next one, like the average blogger often do.

        You’re my role model so I try to figure out:
        How did you prepare this photo, the scenery, your equipment. How was the weather, at what time of day could this be? Why did you postion yourself there and not somewhere else and how on earth do you create this atmosphere that you are actually communicating with the wildlife?
        I am sure food photographer ask themselves the same question, maybe not bearing in mind what you actually wrote about this before.

        Very grateful
        Dina xx

        We’d love to go to Nantucket with you and Francesca and your little one, who knows, what might materialize..? 🙂 On day.. Then I’ll pick up my signed photo personally, now that’s a good idea, hahaha! 🙂

      2. Stefano Post author

        Dear Dina,

        Thank you for your kindness: I am glad if the information I provided was helpful to you! And I think that resorting to good, unbiased reviews from reliable sources is one of the best ways to make up your mind for yourself as to whether you think you will be happy with a specific lens.

        Also, thank you so much for your kind words about my photography: coming from you, I feel flattered and very thankful. I am glad you like my images and even more so if they inspire you to try something you had not done yet or they give you ideas to experiment your own. I think the whole idea is for all of us photographers is to keep expanding our vision and pushing the envelope a little bit at a time, if only to venture out of our own comfort zone to try something new.

        Nantucket is a very pretty island with some interesting whaling history: it would be wonderful and a lot of fun if one day we could go all together! As to your print, you know that we have a deal! 😉

        Have a wonderful weekend,

  6. HansHB

    Great photo!
    I have seen the otter swimming on its back. It puts shells on their stomach, and with a stone in the hand it crushes the shells and eat.
    A smart animals.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s