On some occasions, they further note, otters would guard and copulate with the seals long after their victims had died -– as much as seven days afterward, in fact.
Bizarre as this behavior may seem, Harris and her co-authors point out that it is not dissimilar to standard sea otter mating protocol, in which males will often approach the female from behind, grip her around the chest with his forepaws, and grasp her nose or the side of her face with his teeth. Although the female frequently resists, generally the two eventually spin in the water, the male behind the female, until mating is complete. Here, too, the encounters may prove fatal for the female, either as a result of wounds inflicted from the male's bites and scratches or because of drowning. Harris and colleagues describe one instance in which a male otter held a struggling female underwater until her body became limp and then copulated with her several times. Indeed, trauma related to mating was responsible for 11 percent of deaths in fresh southern sea otter carcasses examined between 2000 and 2003.