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Otters

otter

© phil mcdermott

Otters are mythical creatures to some and many people, including so called 'experts', have never seen an Otter. However, they have often seen their signs, i.e. their spraint or droppings. It may be that in England and the rest of Europe, you have to be content with seeing their signs and that is because they are usually nocturnal in those places. Here on Mull the Otter hunts during the day, and is governed more by the state of the tide than whether it is morning or night.

Otters are only occasionally seen in fresh water here, and it is just offshore near seaweed covered rocks where you will most likely see one. Purchase a Tide Table and study the tides, because The Otter is much more likely to be seen on an incoming tide, than at any other time. As it comes toward high tide, the Otter usually heads for its holt, which is its home and rest area. It is also where they rear their young.

otters

© phil mcdermott

It is very easy to miss an otter, even though they are quite large, the Dog Otter being around four feet from nose to tail. Most people miss an Otter because they are simply not looking. They can be very close indeed when they bring a fish ashore and proceed to eat it - perhaps as close as twenty feet away - and as they are so used to visitors simply cruising on by them, they accept cars passing their territories quite readily.

They can sometimes be very obvious, particularly on a quiet and calm day, as they feed on Butterfish, perhaps thirty feet offshore. If you catch sight of one in this situation, make sure you pretend that you haven't, because if you stop very close to an Otter, he will dive and disappear. Always continue past, and park perhaps a hundred metres away from the otter. If you then get out quietly and walk back toward it, using what vegetation there is as concealment, you can enjoy long term sightings of a really interesting and rare creature.

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