Amazing Sight: River Otters Return to the South River

Their return is a sweet surprise after being nearly wiped out due to habitat loss.


Adding to our holiday cheer here at the South River Federation, we are thrilled to report that river otters have returned to the South River.

The federation has been receiving reports of river otter sightings throughout the river. The photos that accompany this story were taken just this week of three otters frolicking around the headwaters near Flat Creek. 

We have had other reports of sightings in Duvall Bay, Edgewater Beach, Sylvan Shores, and Harbor Hills. The population of North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) has suffered significant losses largely due to habitat loss, but also to pollution and trapping.

To see a comeback of the river otter in the South River is truly an exciting moment.

As a strict carnivore, the river otter is an excellent indicator of ecosystem health. Over time, pollutants such as mercury and PCBs that are retained in the otter's food can accumulate in their system in a process known as biomagnification. 

If the water quality is too poor, the otters cannot survive. If you spot one of the fun loving, playful, and smart creatures, take a moment to observe them. However, RIVERKEEPER ®, Diana Muller cautions to not touch or go near them as with any wildlife. 

Having been fortunate enough to see one herself, Diana Muller will be keeping track of all river otter sightings as well as beaver sightings.  If you are lucky enough to see one of these adorable creatures, please send us the date, time, and GPS location of the sighting. 

If you are able to take pictures, please do share them on the South River Federation's webpage.  


To learn more about these beautiful creatures, visit the National Geographic pages on the river otter or beaver

ARKive also has an extensive collection on river otter and beaver photography.

Donna L. Cole December 23, 2011 at 01:24 PM
There's been at least two sightings in Gingerville, both back in the spring - one in the pond and saw one entering a den at the top of Gingerville Creek. I would be happy to show Diana the den, but sorry, don't know GPS coordinates.
Carol Mattingly December 23, 2011 at 02:17 PM
I saw one in the spring at Granville Creek (South River). I thought it was a seal the way it was swimming and playing until I got a closer look. I couldn't believe my eyes. Hope to see them again!
South River Federation December 23, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Thank you Donna and Carol for sharing your otter sightings! If either of you are interested in learning more about the South River Federation, email me at jennifer@southriverfederation.net and I will add you to our e-newsletter mailing list. Thanks again!
I saw one last summer at my boat slip at Backyard Boats in Shadyside. It was the first time I'd ever seen one outside of captivity, and it was GREAT!! Hope the little fellas continue to make a comeback!


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