Monday, July 18, 2016

River Otter

We had an interesting encounter with a river otter out at the marsh on Sunday. We've seen them out there a couple of times over the years, but this one was definitely not behaving the way we've seen them in the past.
A few days ago we arrived at the marsh and ran into a friend in the parking lot who was just leaving. She said, "There's a mama river otter with her baby in the brackish pond. They've been coming up and going down, swimming around, and carrying on. It's great. Go see them, don't miss it." Well, we headed off in a different direction and planned on looping the brackish pond at the end of the walk as we always do. When we got there only the young otter was around. It was definitely behaving in standard otter fashion, coming up to the surface, looking around, and then heading under the water. I wished I had gotten a photo of it, but it was too busy and hungrily active for a good shot.
Well, we headed back out to the marsh on Sunday. It was quiet out there. So quiet the only photos I had taken by the end of the walk was of thistle flowers. Not much wildlife; the tide was in, and that was that. We did our usual walk, and were heading back to the car when I looked at the small tidal pond where a GIANT transmission tower stands. That's when I saw it. It appeared to be a young-ish (or simply smallish) river otter, just hanging out and not doing its usual exuberant fish hunt.
I took some photos of it and managed to get a short 30 second video. In the video I notice that it closed its eyes for a bit. It was more motionless than I expect a river otter to be. It made eye contact with us, followed our voices and whistles. Now I'm wondering if the creature is not well, hungry, tired, or just young and unsure of humans.

If you make the video full-screen, you can really see its closed eyes. What do you think?

PS-- The water where the otter is swimming is a rather bizarre color because of weird muddy silt that's always there. Also, the patterns on the water are skypools of the windy wavy transmission tower reflection and maybe some clouds.


  1. The video link isn't right: It's a link to the blog. Very interesting in its own way, but not what you intended!
    You might poke around online to see if you can find anything about otters and illness. When my dogs and I encountered a sick woodchuck with a permanently tilted head last year, I was able to find info on exactly what the poor creature's problem was.

  2. Couldn't get the video to work but when I clicked on the picture, he sure had a woebegone expression. Hope he is OK.

  3. Okay, I looked online, and there are a host of diseases and parasites that can afflict these poor babies. I know it's the circle of life, but I hate to see a living being suffer.

  4. CCorax-- I worry about the other wildlife out there that will definitely take advantage of a small sick otter. The next time we head out there I'll find out what happened. Sigh.

    Arkansas Patti-- It's never what we want to see, an animal in distress, but it does happen. The video works now!

  5. I hope the poor little guy is ok. A few years ago a viral illness hit all the deer in our area and pretty much wiped them out.

    1. Sharon-- We haven't made it back out to the marsh to check on this little guy. I hope it's okay too. It's always so sad when wildlife gets sick like this.