Landscape image showing sea otter habitat in California, around Carmel off highway 1. In the middle right of the image you can see some sea otters clinging to the giant kelp. Sea otters live at sea, and only come ashore to give birth. They lie floating on their back, wrapping the giant kelp around their paws to stop them from floating away. Sea otters have the thickest fur of animal that helps it stay warm in the water. Sea otters once thrived from Baja California to the Pacific Northwest of North America through Alaskan and Russian waters and into Japan before hunters nearly exterminated them in the 1700s and 1800s. The California population has grown from a group of about 50 survivors off Big Sur in 1938 to just over 2000 today.