Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Otter

When I first started hiking and backpacking it was hard to find some wild animals that were historically a part of the South. They'd been hounded by over hunting and habitat fragmentation to a point where some of them were genuinely rare. It's hard to believe, but even alligators were once scarce throughout parts of their former range.

One animal that always eluded my quests was the river otter. I would keep my eyes peeled for them, but never so much as a glimpse. You just didn't see them because they were few and far between. In fact, I didn't spot one in the wild until I was almost 20 years old, and it was at the edge of Liptrott Island in Brunwick, Georgia. Because I'd been waiting for such a thing for so long I could hardly believe what I was seeing. Yes, they were that rare.

These days I do encounter them when I'm in the low country. But because they're aquatic and also extremely active, they are very difficult to photograph. Usually when I see them I'm actually on the water in a canoe or kayak and that's when I have one of my cheaper cameras along. So I've never been able to get a nice photo of a wild river otter.

So, when we arrive in the panhandle of Florida in few weeks I will look--as I always do--for the elusive and hyper-active river otter. Maybe, finally, I'll get a nice photograph of one.

Sadly, the clearest shot I've ever taken of a wild otter. This one had just caught a fish and was chomping away on it. Taken on the Rainbow River below Rainbow Springs.

This is about all I ever see of otters when I'm on the water. Generally their heads popping up or their backs as they roll and dive. They move like greased lightning through the river.

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