Otters^

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Mark R
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Otters^

Post by Mark R » Sun Feb 19, 2006 9:37 pm

...are rather cool, I've decided.

I saw nearly as many of them last week as seals. One in particular, allowed me to glide up right beside the seaweed where he was rooting around, despite all the birds around him flying off. Only when I was three metres away did he finally look up and eyeball me - I got a great look at him, I didn't realise that they have white furry faces and 'bibs'. He squinted, looked at me again, then his expression resolved itself into "What the Hell are you?". Then, he finally plopped into the sea, out of sight.

Are they found in the UK outside Scotland?
Last edited by Mark R on Wed Nov 29, 2006 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Douglas Wilcox
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Sun Feb 19, 2006 9:56 pm

Hello Mark from your description and the crittur's bold behaviour, you may well have seen at least one mink.

These are found all over the UK after animal rights activists released them from fur farms.

In some parts of the Highlands and Islands there is a bounty system as they devour anything, especcially birds eggs and chicks.

Douglas.

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Sun Feb 19, 2006 10:26 pm

No. The creatures I saw up close were not minks.
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Post by Mark R » Sun Feb 19, 2006 10:33 pm

I did a bit of web searching. That's the fellow...

Image

White face and 'bib'.
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CaileanMac
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Post by CaileanMac » Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:08 pm

Otter's are chocolate brown and mink are black - a bit like the UKRGB t-shirts by Gene17!

Otters have a long tail and minks don't.
Otters are generally a lot bigger than minks.
Minks are generally more inquisitive than otters but not in Mark's case.
Otter's gracefully dive by bending their backs and minks slight scurry around.
Minks are classed as vermin on most Hebridean islands and otters aren't.
Otters have a 'snoutly like nose' where as minks have a more 'squatty face'.
Mink will attack your food supplies/food bags when camping and otters won't.

Anyway that's just some of the little 'and / if / or' questions I use in my head for making a decision what it is in front of my kayak whilst afloat.

CaileanMac

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:15 pm

CaileanMac wrote:Minks are generally more inquisitive than otters but not in Mark's case.
I approached mine up-wind (and -tide and -rain), even so I was surprised how slow his reactions were.

I took a photo whilst approaching, but all I can make out from it is rocks and slimy seaweed (Had DW taken the shot, it would have looked like the picture I selected above, only with whales jumping over porpoises in the foreground).
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andreadawn
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Post by andreadawn » Mon Feb 20, 2006 8:11 am

Sorry to be ever so slightly pedantic here (!), but Sea Otters are, I believe a North American species (no doubt someone will correct me if I'm wrong here). They do not occur in Europe.

The only species found in Europe is Lutra Lutra, the imaginatively named (European) Otter. This is the species seen in marine environments around our coasts. It is the same species that can be found on inland waterways throughout the UK.

I believe numbers are gradually increasing everywhere, but it is quite rare to see one in England and Wales, where they tend to be much more elusive, probably due to a greater level of human disturbance.

"On the Swirl of the Tide" by Bridget MacCaskill is quite an interesting read about a family of otters living on a Scottish sea loch.

Andrea.

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Post by Jim » Mon Feb 20, 2006 12:14 pm

The sea life centre on Loch Creran had some Canadian Otters in one of their exhibits last time I was there, there was some explanation as to why Canadian and not the indigenous species but I don't remember it.

Other than those "tame" ones, I've only seen one wild Otter when paddling, it was quite shy but not in any special hurry to get away, he/she obviously knew we couldn't keep up once it was swimming.

JIM

Quest 129
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Post by Quest 129 » Mon Feb 20, 2006 2:39 pm

Andreadawn stole my thunder as we only have the one species of otter native to our shores. Its the same otter you see in the sea as you do inland.
This is quite a pet hate of Niall Johnston at the Uist Centre when townies referred to sea otters as being different from the fresh water type.

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Post by Jamie Adam » Mon Feb 20, 2006 2:43 pm

I can believe you saw a few paddling in that area, my parents have a caravan on Lismore and we quite regularly see otters. They are often surprisingly oblivious to humans - I remember throwing rocks around on the beach when I was young, wearing a bright red jacket, when I suddenly noticed an otter only a few metres away. It seemed fairly unconcerned by me and continued browsing through the seaweed. We see a lot of mink too though, but they do look fairly different and we usually see them on land. There are a lot of inquisitive seals in the area too.

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Mon Feb 20, 2006 5:33 pm

Quest 129 wrote:we only have the one species of otter native to our shores.
Oops! Well, I know now.
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Post by Douglas Wilcox » Mon Feb 20, 2006 7:46 pm

Mark>
Had DW taken the shot, it would have looked like the picture I selected above, only with whales jumping over porpoises in the foreground).
Mark, I have never managed to get as close to an otter as you have! Maybe your temporary beard acted as camouflage or as a disguise? I have seen lots of otters but generally at a distance like this one:
Image
which was seen just round the back of Hestan Island in the Solway.

The only other shot that was not a mere pixel or two is this one which was shot just through the Grey Dogs on the west coast of Lunga.

Cailean's point about the size of an otter compared with a mink is well taken. Each time I have caught sight of an otter my first thought has been "baby seal".

Lastly some might have read Ring of Bright Water, by Gavin Maxwell, about life at Camusfearna (Sandaig) with an otter called Edal. Edal was not a British otter but was actually an Iraqi marsh otter!

Douglas :o)

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Post by Helen M » Mon Feb 20, 2006 8:05 pm

Hmm - Gavin Maxwell - Ring of Bright Water - Sandaig Isles:

Taken from my trip report:

Sunday dawned and, as I peeked out of the tent to survey the weather, I saw an otter running along the opposite shore. I ummm .. alerted others to this fact by shouting quite loudly ‘there’s an otter’. Les managed to spot it too before it ran off in the direction of the rocks. I’m ashamed to admit it but I’ve never read ‘A Ring of Bright Water’. However, I intend to remedy that very soon as, on my return home, I managed to find a copy on Ebay and have promptly bought it!

Duly read - Great book - made all the more special for having been to the Sandaigs and being able to relate to the places.

Otters - echo Mark - they're cool!

H - x

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Post by maryinoxford » Tue Feb 21, 2006 11:15 am

The year before last, I had a kayaking holiday with Clearwater Paddling on Barra. During the lunch stop on our first day, we saw our first otter about 100 yards away on offshore rocks. Later in the week, one morning we had just left the hostel, paddlers in the minibus, kayaks on the trailer, and were driving on the village shore road when someone called "Stop". An adult otter and 2 cubs were foraging on the rocky shoreline, 20 or 30 yards away, actually within the village and completely undisturbed by our large conspicuous vehicle.

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Post by Mark R » Mon Jun 05, 2006 3:47 pm

Otter encounter on Lunga....Otter surfaced infront of us and swam along for a while before releasing we were a few metres behind and diving.

Then....this is the vaguely interesting bit...the little critter swam back, resurfaced beside us and had a long hard look to see what we were all about.

Not so reticent...
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Post by tpage » Mon Jun 05, 2006 4:06 pm

MarkR wrote:Otter encounter on Lunga....Otter surfaced infront of us and swam along for a while before releasing we were a few metres behind and diving.

Then....this is the vaguely interesting bit...the little critter swam back, resurfaced beside us and had a long hard look to see what we were all about.

Not so reticent...
Mark, They are very common in the Sound of Luing. I was in the same area the week before you and spotted this one on a Island just after the Dorus Mor.
http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/178480

Then an hour later I spotted another on the Island that guards the Grey Dog. Both didnt seem bothered by my presence.
Tony

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Post by Steve B » Mon Jun 05, 2006 4:41 pm

Otters are featured on Bill Oddie's Springwatch programme, continuing this week - somewhere coastal up in the north of Scotland but I don't recall where (sorry wasn't paying attention). See http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/progin ... pringwatch
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Post by Barbara Sandford » Mon Jun 05, 2006 5:14 pm

I hope no one's going to shatter my illusion and say these aren't otters but these pics were taken at Arisaig in March. Chris and I spent a good 10 minutes watching two otters having a good game of rough and tumble in the shallows. It was absolute magic. Catching them on camera was difficult as they moved so quickly and the dozens of images we took ended up mostly otter-less, save a very few!

Image


Image

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Post by CaptainSensible » Mon Jun 05, 2006 5:32 pm

Those aren't otters - they are (rare) Scottish short-nosed furry salt water alligators...

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Post by Helen M » Sat Sep 02, 2006 1:35 pm

We were lucky enough to get ringside seats for an otter dinnertime viewing. He had a wee bit of a play in the seaweed and then came up with a fish in his mouth, decamped to nearby shore and proceeded, very noisily, to eat it. he was aware we were there but didn't seem to be at all bothered.

Image

H - x

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Post by tizereyes » Mon Sep 11, 2006 3:28 pm

Otters are flippin' fantastic. Only ever seen one in the wild from a hide so it was through binoculars. Must get myself a sea kayak....

But they are the sole reason the I've ended up with ferrets as pets :-) They are remarkably similar in their antics, especially if they like having a bath!!

Image

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similar otter experience

Post by tomthehaggis » Mon Sep 11, 2006 6:52 pm

Mark

The same kind of thing happened to me, paddling in Barra. I was on my own, paddling in a sheltered inlet, and saw an otter 4-5 metres infront of me, who vanished soon after he saw me. But as I paddled past a sea weed covered rock I noticed a wee head with 2 eyes floating in the sea weed. He/she kept their head still as I drifted past, and we had a bit of a stare out. I wasn't sure if it was alive, until it moved its head in my direction. I didn't want to disturb it any longer, so I paddled on. It was my most surreal and satisfying otter moment yet, at closest, being 6ft away fom the stealthy floating seaweed monster!


Tom

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Otters

Post by Colin C » Mon Sep 11, 2006 7:47 pm

I understand Bill Oddies Otter was filmed ar Rosemarkie on the Black Isle
I am told that this Ottter lives near the cafe on the beach, and can be seen most days. It is very used to activity and was not a wilderness experience.
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Post by Helen M » Mon Sep 11, 2006 7:56 pm

We saw 'our' otter on the west coast of Hermetray. He was definately wild - and sooooooo cute!

Image

H - x

ps - Actually we saw quite a few otters but this was the only one that would pose for the camera.

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Mark R
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Post by Mark R » Wed Nov 29, 2006 8:36 am

Again with thanks to Cailean's blog, here is the best stress relief in the world...

http://www.otter-webcam.34sp.com/


These guys will just sleep on your desktop all day long...
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Post by Mark R » Wed Nov 29, 2006 10:37 am

They've woken up!

My VI Formers are captivated.
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Post by PeterG » Wed Nov 29, 2006 10:55 am

Otters don't appear to be very bright, or at least lack the ability to think ahead. It is easy to see and be seen by an otter, paddle round a rock and surprise the same animal. Seals on the other hand have an uncanny ability to read the human mind and anticipate exactly what you will do next. This even works when they are asleep in that vertical position with only the tip of the nose rising and falling in the waves.

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Post by Bod » Wed Nov 29, 2006 11:04 am

MarkR wrote:They've woken up!

My VI Formers are captivated.
I got so excited but it seems they have gone to sleep again.
John B.

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Post by Mark R » Wed Nov 29, 2006 3:40 pm

3.30 in the afternoon, and after at least 17 hours straight spent dozing in the same place, they've just gotten up and gone out.

I want to be reincarnated as an otter...
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. . . . look ! look !

Post by Yellerbelly » Wed Nov 29, 2006 6:16 pm

. . . . they've written something on the wall with their muddy paws !

Image

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