Wednesday, November 9, 2016

River Otters in the Great Central Valley

Several times this year I have been lucky enough to see North American River Otters (Lontra canadensis) in both the San Joaquin and Tuolumne Rivers.  They have been too leery of me to allow for any great National Geographic quality photos (let's be honest, that's not entirely the otters' fault!) but I have gotten a few shots in which they are at least recognizable as river otters, not just obscure brown blobs on the riverbank!

River Otter along the banks of the Tuolumne River.

The presence of otters in our rivers is a wonderful thing.  As a top predator species in the ecosystem, river otters are often heralded as indicators of the health of the entire watershed.  Like their seafaring counterpart, California's Southern Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris nereis), the North American River Otter was once hunted extensively for it's thick pelt.  Where otters once thrived, over hunting, followed closely by habitat loss and degradation, has taken a toll on their populations.  As is the case with most aquatic (and semi-aquatic) species, water pollution is detrimental.

River otter along the sandy bank of the San Joaquin River

Only recently, river otters have been making a remarkable comeback in the watersheds of the San Francisco Bay Area.  For more information on the valuable (and cute) North American River Otter, specifically their presence in the Bay Area, check out The River Otter Ecology Project's Website.

No comments:

Post a Comment