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Otter vs. Seal: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 5, 2024
Otters are semi-aquatic mammals with slim bodies and webbed feet, known for their playfulness, while seals are aquatic mammals with flippers, known for their streamlined bodies adapted for marine life.

Key Differences

Otters have long, slender bodies with short limbs, webbed feet, and a thick fur coat that insulates them in water. Seals possess a more streamlined, torpedo-shaped body, with flippers for limbs, facilitating efficient swimming in the ocean.
Otters typically inhabit both marine and freshwater environments, including rivers, lakes, and coastal areas. Seals, on the other hand, are primarily marine animals, living in the ocean but often coming ashore on rocky beaches or ice floes.
Otters are known for their playful behavior, often seen sliding on mudbanks or juggling stones. Seals are less playful on land but demonstrate agility and playfulness in the water.
The diet of an otter mainly consists of fish, crustaceans, and small mammals. Seals predominantly feed on fish, squid, and other marine creatures, depending on their species.
Many otter species face threats from habitat loss and pollution, requiring conservation efforts. Similarly, some seal species are endangered due to factors like climate change, hunting, and pollution.

Comparison Chart


Freshwater and marine environments
Primarily marine environments

Body Shape

Long, slender with webbed feet
Streamlined with flippers


Thick fur coat
Smooth, blubber-rich skin


Fish, crustaceans, small mammals
Fish, squid, marine organisms


Playful, uses tools
Agile in water, less active on land

Otter and Seal Definitions


A member of the weasel family found in water habitats.
We spotted an otter swimming in the lake near our camp.


An aquatic creature known for its streamlined body.
The seal dove effortlessly into the deep blue sea.


A playful semi-aquatic mammal with a slender body.
The river otter slid gracefully into the water.


An animal covered in a layer of blubber for insulation.
The seal's thick blubber keeps it warm in frigid waters.


An animal known for its dense, waterproof fur.
Otters have fur that keeps them warm in chilly waters.


A marine mammal with flippers for limbs.
A group of seals basked on the ice floe.


A creature adept at using tools, like rocks, to open shells.
The otter used a rock to crack open the clamshell.


A predator feeding mainly on fish and squid.
The seal emerged with a fish in its mouth after a successful hunt.


An animal with webbed feet for swimming.
The otter's webbed feet make it an excellent swimmer.


A species often found resting on shores or ice.
We saw seals lounging on the sandy beach.


Any of various aquatic or semiaquatic carnivorous mammals of the mustelid subfamily Lutrinae, having webbed feet and dense, dark brown fur.


A device or material that is used to close off or fasten an opening or connection, especially to prevent the escape of a liquid or gas
Used caulk as a seal around the window.


What are otters?

Semi-aquatic mammals known for their playfulness.

What do otters eat?

Mainly fish, crustaceans, and small mammals.

Are otters social animals?

Yes, some species are very social.

Do otters use tools?

Yes, they use rocks to open shells.

Where do seals live?

Mostly in marine environments.

Where do otters live?

In both freshwater and marine environments.

What do seals eat?

Primarily fish and squid.

How do seals adapt to cold water?

With their blubber and fur.

How long can otters live?

Up to 15 years in the wild.

What are seals?

Aquatic mammals with streamlined bodies.

Can otters walk on land?

Yes, but they are more agile in water.

Do otters build dens?

Yes, often in riverbanks.

Are seals fast swimmers?

Yes, very agile in the water.

Can seals hear well?

Yes, they have excellent hearing.

How do seals hunt?

Using their acute senses under water.

How do seals care for their young?

Through nursing and protection.

How do otters communicate?

Through vocalizations and body language.

Are otters endangered?

Some species are due to habitat loss.

Do seals live in groups?

Yes, often in large colonies.

Are seals threatened by climate change?

Yes, particularly ice-dependent species.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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