Friday, August 1, 2014

Respect River Otters

Just recently, an 8 year old boy and his grandmother was swimming in the Pilchuck River in Washington State, when they saw an four foot otter near them. The otter attacked the boy! The grandmother saved the child, but was attacked and suffered serious injury. Both needed medical treatment and stitches. I posted a story last year about a river otter that I encountered. Here's my encounter with an otter on the Duck River last year.

  "I suddenly thought about what would happen if this 20-30 lb. river otter attacked me in my kayak?",It all started last Saturday. I spent the day kayak fishing away from the big screen and on a big stream named the Duck River. Duck River is located in middle Tennessee and is the most biologically diverse river in North American. This river contains more fish varieties per mile than any other river in North America. The Duck is home to over 150 species of fish, 55 mussels, 22 species of snails and many aquatic animals. I was lucky to capture a photo of this critter from my kayak.
It's a North American River Otter. This is only my second sighting of a river otter, the other was on the Harpeth River, also located in Tennessee.
These animals are very agile. In fact, I watched the otter twist and turn like a corkscrew while chasing minnows in and out of the reeds. The minnows were fast, but the otter was faster, often coming up with its catch.
This otter was oblivious to my presence. Here I am, in a big blue kayak, slowly moving toward the otter, while taking photos. He was total focused on fishing. This made me believe that he was a fairly young otter.
Finally, I moved within 35 feet of the otter and he still didn't detect me. He would come up for air and I would snap a picture.
I decided that I was too close and began to slowly move away because I don't like to disturb wildlife too much. I slowly paddled in reverse with one hand while holding the camera with the other, I was hoping that the otter would do something interesting.
While backing up, the paddle lightly banged against the kayak. Bang, this got the otters attention and he looked up straight in my direction. For a few seconds we both stared at each other and then, he showed me his teeth. You know, it's funny what goes through your mind when a wild animal shows you his teeth. I suddenly thought about what would happen if a 20-30 lb. river otter attacked, but quickly discounted the idea because I have never heard of otters attacking folks, right? Anyway, check out those teeth; they look like they could do some real damage. Can you believe how white they are? It appears that they've been whiten by the local dentist. Dang, they're bright! Then...
...the otter raised up aggressively and let out a big snort. I wondered if this otter was on the edge of attack. All of a sudden he quickly disappeared under the water heading in my direction. Oh crap, camera down and paddle up in the defensive postion! After some time had passed, he apparently had moved on. Boy, did I feel relieved, but otters don't attack people, right? After the trip, I arrived home and the first thing I did was research otter attacks. To my surprise, I found that otters do attack people. Often times when they have small one's around, but sometimes for no known reason. The attacks are vicious; however no one has died from an otter attack. Luckily, it doesn't occur often. Now when I see an otter, I have more respect.

1 comment:

  1. With teeth like those I suspect the attack would be quite painful. The only encounter I've had with them was Middle Bar Bridge and they were very good at stripping your stringer without you even knowing it.