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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Northern River Otter (Lutra canadensis)

I am regularly amazed at the variety of wildlife that is visible within the urban areas of Victoria. Though they are much less common than seals, I have several times seen Northern River Otters (Lutra canadensis) such as the one pictured above and to the left, though seldom so close. This one was sighted just below the West Bay Walkway a few days ago. Because Sea Otters are so much more famous - their luxuriant fur having drawn early explorers and fur traders to this area - Northern River Otters are often mistakenly identified as "Sea Otters", especially when they are seen in coastal waters. The Sea Otter population is rebounding from near extinction a hundred years ago, but the nearest large colony is further north on the coast of Vancouver Island and they are unlikely to be seen south of Tofino in this area. True Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris) are related to River Otters but are considerably larger. Adults often have lighter colored heads which aids in identification. To see the differences between the species check the photo below of a Sea Otter, taken in the Seattle Aquarium last summer.


JoJo said...

They are just the cutest, most cuddly little things aren't they? I couldn't resist buying a stuffed toy otter on the Clipper. I named him Salish.

Dean Lewis said...

Beautiful critters. Seeing their slightly smaller heads swimming along, it is easy to mistake them for a seal.
Earlier this year, one came scrambling up the docks gangway and ran straight down the causeway to the delight of dozens of tourists and right behind a guitarist thinking it was a dog. :)

RedPat said...

One of my favourite animals - life seems to be such a happy thing to them!. Great shots.

biebkriebels said...

Hij looks so sweet, I love those animals, they have such a cute face.