By Judy Drew Fairchild for Island Eye News
Claudia DeMayo caught these shots of river otters playing in the impoundment on Dewees Island earlier this month. River otters have been seen at all times of the year on Dewees Island, but they are most often seen in the impoundment, and usually in winter.
Otters find impounded wetlands to be ideal habitat, and make good use of the easy fishing found in that habitat. Their primary prey is fish, but they will eat other aquatic animals such as turtles, crabs, mollusks, and even waterfowl. They breed in late winter and early spring, with young born in late winter. Litters observed on the island have had two or three kits, and a group of three grown otters has been seen several times in the winter of 2013-14.
Development and increased boat traffic are factors contributing to species decline, although the populations of South Carolina are relatively healthy. According to the South Carolina Aquarium, an otter’s fur contains about 156,000 hairs per square inch, providing them with incredible insulation during cold weather. The aquarium has a wonderful otter exhibit, where you can watch them feed and play.
In addition, the aquarium is running a Valentine’s Day adopt-an-animal. Support education and conservation and give a unique gift all at the same time by adopting a river otter through the $50 You Otter Be My Valentine adoption. Your special someone will receive a personalized adoption certificate, fun fact sheet, adopt decal and a plush river otter. Call 843.579.8518 by February 7 to ensure delivery for Valentine’s Day.
For more details and video of the Dewees otters visit deweesislandblog.com/river-otter-lutra-canadensis.
Photos by Claudia DeMayo.