Monday, June 14, 2010

You Otter Be in Pictures


Who doesn’t like otters? Those blunt-nosed, cute and comical faces, those amazingly agile bodies, that inquisitive, playful air—that tendency to inspire in their admirers a veritable deluge of adjectives… Put simply: they’re great.

I got to see some otters in the wild when I was on a college internship in Anacortes, WA—river otters, I learned, although they were swimming along the shores of Puget Sound. They would lie around on the half-submerged rocks at high tide, eating shellfish, playing, and making impossible-to-imitate noises that were a cross between dog-yelps and cheeps. I could never get too close to them, though, and, because this was in 2001, that long-ago time before everyone had a digital camera with a built-in zoom, I never got any good pictures of them, either (“See that speck on the rock? No, the other rock? That’s an otter!”).

And until recently the only images, visual or digital, I had of the six Asian small-clawed otter brothers at the zoo were ones of them snoozing together in a cute but sadly un-photogenic clump. Then I happened to be passing through one morning when the otters were surprisingly active (and close to my lens). One of the brothers started playing with a pebble, moving it from paw to paw as if he were practicing for a juggling or sleight-of-hand act. Another otter took the practice up, although they didn’t try passing the pebbles between them; apparently each brother wanted to be a solo act.



After twenty minutes or so, though, the otters seemed to decide that they, and their audience, had had enough fun, and the group of them went off to lie in a log: once again adorable and impossible to photograph.

Inconsiderate little lutrines…


2 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

We saw some otters in the wild a few weeks back. My wife and I. At Big Branch wildlife refuge down here in Southern Louisiana. What beautiful creatures.

Scott Wolfe said...

Can I use the photo with the paw raised as a question slide in my master's thesis exit seminar?

Thank you!!!

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