But we’re not as crazy about mink…
Ms. Wurzel Tod brought a BBC News article to our attention. It’s about the River Trent in England. A certain Mr. Philip Precey, from the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, is quoted as saying.
“But if you say to them it’s about otters, that’s something big and sexy, a big animal… people understand otters and then we can explain all the other things.”
For bloody years now, we at blather.net (well, me anyway) have been raving and ranting (mostly while in our cups) about the intrinsic sexiness of otters. Forget anthropomorphic comparisons, forget Mr DeBarra and his obsession with ‘weasel sex’, otters have it sussed.
Think about it. One male otter was recorded as having 37 waterfront homes, each about 1-1.5km apart. They make mudslides for playing on. The eat fresh fish every day. They’re good dancers. They’re playful, exhibitionistic and intelligent. What’s not to like?
They even use tools:
‘Sea otters use stones to open tasty shell fish. A hungry otter is capable of cracking 50 mussels in 90 minutes – delivering more than 2,000 blows in the process’.
Surprisingly, the only non-primate mammal known to use stone tools is the sea otter. It used to be thought that animals used tools for immediate tasks only, and then discarded them; but sea otters retain favourite stones, tucking them into their armpits when they dive for food.
Otters are flagship species… if the otters disappear from an environment, something is very wrong. I was heartened to see one playing on the Marino in Malahide about a month ago, on a blisteringly cold afternoon. A good sign, I reckon. According to an article in yesterday’s Irish Independent, ‘the so-called common or European otter has become locally extinct in central Europe, but appears to be thriving in Ireland even in urban areas like Swords in north Co Dublin’. Otters are a protected species in Ireland.
There still seems to be otters on the river Slaney, from what I hear. Fishing has declined on the estuary, possibly due to pollution, and this would have caused a decline in the otters, to some extent. I grew up beside that river, and I can remember, going out to school one morning, and stopping to watch an otter frolicking on a boat, running up and down the gunwale, dancing. Beautiful.
Last year, I was in the aquarium, in Monterey, California. Out in the outdoor balcony, overlooking the open pacific, a sea otter was asleep, bobbing around on the swell. He was lying on his back, his pays joined together, as if in prayer. Every so often, he would cock one drowsy eye open, check out his audience, and doze off again…
In Other News:
When Otters Attack »
And in other news:
Otters feast on frogs’ legs »
“It is a natural thing… The otter is just going about its business.”
Otters in Ireland
Otters in Europe
The Otter Cam
International Otter Survival Fund
Friends of the Sea Otter
An Otter or a Mink?
My gentleman roommate, Dr. Fagan, tells me that in the wee hours of Saturday morning, he was perambulating home along Arbour Hill, Dublin 7, when a good-sized sleek animal darted across the road. It appeared from beside Arbour Cottages and vanished under a gate Donlon’s shop.
He said it looked like an otter, and I reckoned it was too big to be a stoat. I tended to dismiss the otter claim – while they live urban waterways, they tend to stick close to them, as far as I know.
I reckon it’s an American Mink (introduced). They live near water, but stray away from it easily enough, and while the otter feeds almost exclusively from water-based prey, mink are more opportunistic, and are notorious for going after domestic fowl. There’s no reason why they can’t be living around the Liffey, perhaps around Islandbridge… and Arbour Hill is only a few hundred metres from the river.
Or maybe it was travelling from the Royal canal?
Mink in Ireland »