What's not to love about these playful creatures.
Many years ago, I was employed in the forest industry working for a consulting firm as a timber cruiser. In those days we would go on campouts in canvas tents, complete the job, which usually took ten days, come home and do it all over again. I saw a lot of beautiful country back then and when it comes to otters one of those campouts comes to mind in particular. We had found a beautiful camping spot on the banks of a sizable creek flowing into Williston Lake just north of Mackenzie, BC. The terrain was flat for once, the weather stayed nice the whole time and we shared the spot with a family of river otters, which lived about fifty metres upstream from our camp. We had a lot of fun watching them in the evenings for entertainment. I didn’t have a camera along, but this encounter was stuck in my mind for a long time.
And then I got lucky. On one of my outings in the Airpark in Courtenay on Vancouver Island I spotted a lone river otter. Up came the camera with the big lens and I started shooting. It didn’t take too long for the otter to notice the onshore activity. Suspicious of my actions but curious to see what was going on, the otter swam back and forth parallel to the shore in an effort to find out. When it finally left, I had a camera full of fairly nice photos.
Another opportunity arose several years later one early morning in Victoria's Inner Harbour. I was on my way to do some street photography, when I spotted a river otter devouring its catch just below me on one of the decks. I didn't have the proper lens mounted on my camera and i scrambled back to my car, which was parked only a short distance away to get the proper lens. Luckily the otter stayed around and allowed me to get some fairly decent shots.
Fast forward a few months from there. I was on an early morning outing in Cottonwood Island Park in Prince George when I noticed some movement just upstream in the slough. It was the “golden hour” and the otter was posing on a log for me, (at least that’s what I like to think of all my animal encounters) some distance away, before getting into the water and started swimming toward me. I scrambled down toward the bank of the slough and was rewarded with some great close-up shots.
Fast forward another couple of years and I found myself living now in Parksville, BC. On a morning outing I saw some otter tracks at the mouth of the Englishman River Estuary. I revisited the spot the next day and there were some more fresh tracks. This went on for a while until I noticed a dark spot moving up the river channel. It was my elusive friend, the otter. It did a very nice swim-by for me, climbed up on the bank and checked me out from the safety of some large boulders, poking its head up several times. As time went on, I was introduced to the otter’s family and their neighbours. Both were families of five. They swam for me and posed for me over one beautiful summer and autumn. I can’t wait to see them again this summer.
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