Thursday, September 21, 2017

You Otter be a Citizen Scientist

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 1:44 PM

click to enlarge Otters mooching scraps at Trinidad Pier on Sunday. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • Otters mooching scraps at Trinidad Pier on Sunday.

One doesn't have to go far to see local river otters in the wild. Just take a walk out on the Trinidad pier and you're likely to see one swimming in the harbor. But the best time is when local sport fishermen return to the floating dock below the pier to clean their catches. On Sunday, I spotted a group of five river otters swimming under the dock and climbing over the float looking for handouts.

click to enlarge One otter (likely male) hoists himself onto Trinidad Pier as his pals swim on. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • One otter (likely male) hoists himself onto Trinidad Pier as his pals swim on.

"The Trinidad otter clans have been robust this season," said Trinidad sport fisherman and resident Ted Pease. "I regularly see about six youngsters in the group that lives of the east side of the head and mooches off of the floating dock. And it's a second clan, I believe, that shows up on Old Home Beach regularly. We've also seen a family on the north end of Houda Beach.
click to enlarge Spot an otter? Jot down details and report it to the River Otter Citizen Scientist Project. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • Spot an otter? Jot down details and report it to the River Otter Citizen Scientist Project.

The next time you see a wild river otter, you could become a citizen scientist. Jeff Black, a Humboldt State University otter researcher, has created a River Otter Citizen Science Project and would like observers to share with him what they saw, such as the number of otters, whether there were pups, the date and time, and a detailed location (with Google map coordinates if possible). Contact him at otters@humboldt.edu or at facebook.com/ottersproject.
click to enlarge Sunning on Trinidad Pier. As one does. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • Sunning on Trinidad Pier. As one does.

When I shared these photos of river otters at the Trinidad Pier, Black replied by email: "We don't receive as many records of Trinidad otters as we could, I'm sure. This looks like a group of five males. Did you know otter sexes don't always mix? Females have the territories (moms and grown daughters and current pups) and males roam among female locations."
click to enlarge A scruffy fellow having a scratch on the shore. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • A scruffy fellow having a scratch on the shore.

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