Past distribution of the sea otter included Hokkaido Island of Japan north through the Kuril Islands and eastern coast of Kamchatka, east through the Commander Islands and Aleutian archipelago, the southern coast of Alaska, and the west coast of North America to Baja, Mexico. Sea ice limits their northern range to below 57 degrees N lattitude, and the distribution of kelp forests limits the southern range to about 22 degrees N lattitude. Hunting during the 18th and 19th centuries greatly reduced the distribution fo the sea otter. Three subspecies of Enhydra lutris are recognized today. E.l. lutris ranges from the Kuril Islands north to the commander islands in the western pacific. E.l. nereis is found off the coast of central California. E.l. kenyoni is distributed throughout the Aleutian Islands and southern Alaska, and has been reintroduced to various locations from south of Prince William Sound, Alaska to Oregon.
(Wilson et.al. 1991; Estes 1980; Nowak 1999)
Biogeographic Regions: pacific ocean (Native )