North American River Otter

One morning, while in Florida in December, I went to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park hoping to see and photograph the North American River Otter that I had briefly seen the day before. Shortly after arriving at the same location on Lake Wauburg, the otter appeared right in front of me and seemed to be checking me out. My camera and I were prepared, but very surprised to see the otter so quickly after arriving and so close.

An adult North American River Otter can weigh as much as 30 pounds. They are protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. Fish is a favored food, but they also consume amphibians, turtles, and crayfish. This otter was after fish that morning and proceeded to hunt and catch fish, several fish, while I watched and photographed.

Each time the otter caught a fish, it would swim along the shoreline to an opening in the reeds along the bank. It would then leave the water and casually walk into the reeds where it would disappear for several minutes. It would then reappear, return to the water and hunt for another fish.

Above, the otter is leaving the water with a fish and turning into the reeds. Below, the otter is returning to the lake.

I could not believe my luck. The light was very good, the location was excellent and the otter continued hunting and returning to the reeds for about an hour. Most likely, the otter had a den with young otters in the reeds. I saw the otter bring at least 4 fish into the reeds.

When the otter dove under the water, its tail (below) would briefly appear as it propelled the otter through the water.

And to close, one more image where the otter and I were making eye contact, or was it eye to lens contact.

About Stephen L Tabone

Executive Consultant and Nature Photographer
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3 Responses to North American River Otter

  1. Really unique the way you seemed to attract the otter, and vice versa. Gods creatures seem to have such attraction to you.
    How different is the otter from a beaver? Are they at all alike, in habits, actions etc. They do look somewhat alike don’t they. Or am I totally confused? (We had beaver on the lake in Minn. But, they cut our trees (small ones) down, and felled them in the lake.)
    Anyway loved this blog.
    Thanks, Dot

  2. Anne says:

    The otter is actually cute … and curious but unafraid, too. You must have not seemed threatening to him at all since he continued his task of fishing. Just amazing at what you have been able to capture and share with all of us!

  3. Mac says:

    Otterly Beautiful…Amazing that you were able to stop their movements and give us an opportunity to see them up close.

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