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@@Patty, great to see on the beach, I'd never thought of them doing that.

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@@Patty, great to see on the beach, I'd never thought of them doing that.


I had no idea until I went to Moss Landing for the first time. I initially thought there was an injured otter until I read the sign :)

Edited by Patty
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When I lived in CA I used to love visiting Point Lobos and adjacent Garrapata State Park.



I try to go to Point Lobos weekly and love hiking in Sobranes Canyon.


Sadly both are currently closed and Sobranes Canyon is on fire right now :(



I saw in the news that there was a wildfire at Garrapata State Park - so sorry to hear that! Especially since the rains are so far away...

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  • 2 months later...

Yesterday I had a wonderful day in the field at Santee National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina. One of the highlights was an encounter with a River Otter (Lontra canadensis).


At first it was snoozing on a grassy dike between a freshwater marsh and a lily pad-covered pond. It was partially facing away from me, and the wind was in my favor, so I was able to sneak a little closer after spotting it.



Then it woke up and sat up a bit, scanning the area drowsily.



Then, perhaps hearing the shutter of my camera clicking, it glanced in my direction.



Unconcerned by my low-key presence, he began marking his territory (I presume it was a male)



After using his scent glad to mark the dike, he scuffed his back feet and ambled over and down into the water. I felt privileged to be semi-accepted by the otter - or at least not viewed as a threat.



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  • 10 months later...

Another one from Moss Landing this morning



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Ooo! I have something contribute!!


Giant river otters - They are so funny because they always look grumpy





In case you were wondering what the inside of an otter's mouth looked like





I like this one because it's carrying a new pup





I've never seen the furry river otters before, but I really really really want to!! They are seriously cute.

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  • 1 month later...

African clawless otter seen in the Kafue National Park in Zambia, 21-02-2014

They are terribly nice to watch: playful, curious and fast.




Edited by wschulte
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  • 10 months later...

This isn't an image, but I thought I would link to some video I took of giant river otters in the Pantanal last year, in case anyone is interested in watching them on land for 8 minutes!


EDIT: Sorry I just realised there is a separate section for posting videos!



Edited by CheetahFan
Wrong place to put videos
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  • 5 months later...
On 8/24/2017 at 7:04 AM, Patty said:

Another one from Moss Landing this morning




~ @Patty


What a terrific shot!


You've captured the ideal “off-duty otter” image.


I love it!


Thank you for posting this!


Tom K.

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@Tom Kellie - I hope you can access these photos as well.


Yesterday afternoon I was able to get away from work with a little daylight left.  I joined my friend Matt, whose father-in-law is a co-owner of a big (12,000+ acre) wildlife and hunting preserve about 50 minutes drive south of Charleston..  


After birding around for an hour and a half and seeing good stuff (covey of Northern Bobwhite Quail, family of endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers), near sundown we walked out on the dike of a former ricefield.   The former ricefield is now maintained as waterbird habitat; the dike separates the impoundment from the tidal marsh.  We had planned to play some rail vocalizations to see if we could get responses and get an idea how many and what kind were in the vicinity.  


I heard some splashing and quiet grunting, looked down in the tiny creek that runs from the dike outflow into the marsh proper and saw three North American River Otters (Lontra canadensis) feeding voraciously.    They were eating Striped Mullet (Mugil cephalus) one after the other, with much gusto, smacking of lips, and soft grunts (perhaps a combination contact call and expression of gustatory delight like a duck's feed chatter?).


They were only 8-9 meters from us, at a height of about 3 meters lower.  We were slow and unobtrusive and they did not seem to mind us.


I had left my tripod behind, and I had a 400mm f/4 lens with a 1.4 extender (giving me only f/5.6 at 560 mm).   I also left my camera bag back at the guest house and did not even have a ziplock bag or anything to put the extender in if I removed it.   So I was stuck with very little fading light, at close range (could not see them if we moved back), with an extender on a lens that was not super-fast to begin with.   At least I had a Canon 5DmkIV which is pretty good at high ISO.






-- After the Otters withdrew we did kick-start a widspread "rail conversation" throughout the adjoining freshwater and tidal marshes:  6 King Rails, eight Clapper Rails, two Virginia Rails and one Sora.


Edited by offshorebirder
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5 minutes ago, offshorebirder said:

@Tom Kellie - I hope you can access these photos as well.

-- After the Otters withdrew we did kick-start a widspread "rail conversation" throughout the adjoining freshwater and tidal marshes:  6 King Rails, eight Clapper Rails, two Virginia Rails and one Sora.


~ @offshorebirder


Happily, Yes! Both otter images came through clearly, with splendid detail.


Thank you so much! This has unexpectedly been the otter thread's day.


What a glorious time in the field for you and your friend.


That property sounds like a superbly maintained wildlife habitat.


The bonus was the presence of rails and a sora.


This type of up-to-the-minute local report brings energy to Safaritalk.


Many, many thanks for the images and the information.


Tom K.

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  • 4 months later...

Olympic Peninsula, WA 2011




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Giant otters, Porto Jofre, Brazil

45451390451_0563549f58_b.jpgP9261348 Giant Otters by Jo Dale, on Flickr


Neotropical Otters, Barranco Alto, Brazil

44623605624_2e6abaecd5_b.jpgP9201325 Don't look now, but.. we are being watched... by Jo Dale, on Flickr


Eurasian Otter, Norwich UK

5278256696_b26eaa9066_b.jpgPC205971 otter1 by Jo Dale, on Flickr


Sea otter, Hokkaido, Japan

26362994607_9a03e3e0da_b.jpgP3012577 Sea Otter by Jo Dale, on Flickr


Smooth-coated Otter, Kinabatangan, Borneo

13745183633_4b41914062_b.jpgP3233788 Smooth-coated Otter by Jo Dale, on Flickr

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  • 1 year later...

San Luis Obispo Bay/Avila Beach  California  2021


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  • 1 month later...

Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra) taken from an overnight hide in Lincolnshire UK



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  • 2 weeks later...

The Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra) was widespread throughout the UK until the late 50s and 60s, when the population crashed largely as a result of the pollution of our rivers, they disappeared from most of Great Britain, becoming confined to the West Coast of Scotland, the Hebrides, the Orkneys and Shetland Islands, parts of Wales and the Southwest in Devon and Cornwall. The one positive effect of this, was that in 1981, it led to otters being protected and the banning of otter hunting, in the past people would set out with packs of hounds to hunt them, in a similar fashion to fox hunting, only the followers would be on foot, not on horseback. What this meant, was that when I was growing up Eurasian Otters were very rare here in the UK, there were certainly none anywhere in my neighbourhood, that I was aware of. To see an otter back then, meant travelling to distant parts of the country and relying on a lot of luck, I never went anywhere to specifically look for otters, but once on a family holiday in Devon, I missed seeing one by couple of hours, because I’d chosen to have a lie-in that morning, I was more than a little annoyed with myself, when I learned that I had missed seeing an otter. Having not been lucky in Devon and not gone on a dedicated trip to try and see otters in the UK, it would turn out, that my first sighting of what I’m confident was a Eurasian Otter, would be on the Ramganga River in Jim Corbett National Park in India, but I didn’t get any photos. I would not perhaps have imagined that India, would be where I would see my first Eurasian Otter, back home, the pollution problem that primarily caused the near demise of the otter, was addressed, our rivers were cleaned up well enough, that soon otters started to return to their old haunts, albeit sometimes with a helping hand. They have made a truly remarkable comeback, reaching the point where we are today, where they are now found in every single county in England, Scotland and Wales. Even so, I was more than a little surprised, when I learned that there were in fact otters on my own patch, I wasn’t too sure if I really believed this could be the case, that there were actually wild otters, on a lake quite a short walk away. I knew there had been in the past, well before my time, but could they really have returned, some years ago I was given a Little Acorn trail camera, I hoped it would provide me with an answer. Back in February 2015 it did.    




At the same time as filming otters, it also captured film of a far less welcome visitor, the introduced American Mink (Neovison vison), research suggests that when otters return to an area and become properly re-established, they drive away mink, I'm glad to say that I've not filmed a mink in a long time, I can only guess that this is because of the otters. They are easy to tell apart, because of the obvious difference in size, this is well illustrated by this next image, which combines the first otter photo, with a daytime shot of a mink taken at the same spot 12 days later.  




The following shots taken at a different spot also clearly illustrate the big difference in size




American Mink





Eurasian Otter


If you are out looking for otters or just wildlife generally, you should have no trouble telling an otter from a mink, if you see either, unless it is only a very brief glimpse. If you are looking for signs of otters, mink do tend to choose similar spots to leave their droppings, but distinguishing mink scat from otter spraint, should be quite easy, as the former is smaller very black, and may contain hair and small bones and has a foul smell, it also quickly goes mouldy, otter spraint does not, spraint is usually lighter and more grey in colour, as it starts black but then quickly fades, it will likely contain fish scales and fish bones and also has a sweet, apparently not unpleasant smell, I can't confirm that, I've not tried smelling it, as whenever I've seen it, I've generally been certain it's spraint and not mink scat.


Here's a handy guide to otter signs from the Somerset Otter Group Otter Signs    


and another article.


Mink or otter? How to tell the difference 


The Somerset Otter Group has some advice on Otter Photography and Watching in the UK.


My Little Acorn eventually stopped working and I now use a Bushnell trail cam. It is very satisfying when you succeed in getting good trail camera footage of your intended target, but it’s not the same as seeing as the actual animal yourself, and filming otters with a trail camera, is actually not too difficult, helpfully they mark their territory by leaving their droppings known as spraint, in fairly obvious places, where it is easy to find. If you can find a sprainting spot, provided there is a good position to put your camera (not always the case), either strapped to a tree or on a ground spike, you can be sure of capturing footage of otters. I also occasionally took the risk of placing a wooden stake in the water and strapping the camera to it, just high enough above water level, to be able access the memory card, if you do this, you obviously have to keep an eye on the weather, too much rain and the water level could conceivably rise enough to submerge at least the bottom of the camera, it can cope with any amount of rain, but I suspect it might not survive being submerged. The advantage of this from the point of view of filming the water, is that finding a great position on the bank or just in the edge of the water is difficult, because of all the pond sedge, flag iris and other plants, that I need to make sure aren’t in the way, as I don’t want to have to look through 300 videos of nothing but wind, a real waste of both my time and batteries. If you can find a spot close to the bank where the water is just deep enough, sighting the camera on a pole beyond the vegetation, saves having to do too much gardening, or wading about in mud to ensure a clear field of view for the sensor.     









Those video compilations are all from 2015, I have more from each year since, except curiously from 2017, either I didn't set up the camera at any of the right spots that year or have it out enough or possibly I just failed to ensure I'd set the clock correctly every time I put it out, as I have found two short videos of otters taken with a Bushnell camera, time-stamped Jan 2015, and I definitely didn't have a Bushnell trail camera then, I was still using my Little Acorn throughout 2015, but when the batteries run out, after you put fresh ones in, you need to make sure you remember to reset the clock, otherwise it will have reverted to the factory setting, for my Bushnell that would have been Jan 2015, so the videos could have taken in 2017, but I can't be sure, I got the Bushnell in 2016 so they could also have been taken then. I also don't yet have anything from this year, but that's just because I haven't really put the camera out yet, but writing this has inspired me, to try and find a new spot where I haven't had it before.  

Edited by inyathi
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The time stamp on this next video states 2015, but I didn't own a Bushnell camera then, so it was either taken in 2016 like the preceding compilation or in 2017, I'm not sure which. 









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Despite making a number of attempts to try and spot one, I had no luck, there is a limit to how many more times you want to get up very earlier in the morning, to be out before dawn, to look for otters, when you’ve already made a few attempts and drawn a blank and can’t be sure if any otters are still around or if they may have already moved on, as these otters are not permanent residents, they hang around for a while and then move on.  Much like when you are on safari hoping to see a leopard, it can seem that the more determined you are to see one, the less likely you are to succeed, the difference is that on safari your time is limited, so you have to try, with wildlife in your own backyard you have plenty of time to get lucky. I decided to leave it to luck, sure that at some point, I might at least catch a glimpse of an otter.


Well as it turned out I eventually did, remarkably on Thursday the 14th of Nov 2019, I spotted one from distance swimming around in broad daylight, right in the middle of the day, I didn’t get a great view of it, but it was an otter, the first I had definitely seen in the UK, I wasn’t able to get any worthwhile photos. The date is firmly fixed in my mind, because on the following Sunday the 17th I was due to fly to Zambia to go on safari, however, later that afternoon I learned that my flight on SAA had been cancelled, as they had just gone on strike. After a few frantic calls to my travel agent, they had got me a seat on a BA flight leaving on the Saturday, the following morning on the Friday, I confirmed the flight and then rearranged my trip to the airport to a day ahead of schedule, I assumed I was then all set to go. After lunch I decided, I just had time enough to go out for some fresh air and a short walk and thought I would scan the water, on the off chance that the otter might still be around, I was astonished to see that it was. I then set off with my camera to try and get as close as possible unseen and get some reasonable shots with my 100-400 lens, I couldn’t stay for long as I still had to pack for my trip and I also didn’t wish to disturb the otter at all. Satisfied that I had taken as many photos as I could hope to, I retreated and hopefully left unseen.




















Unfortunately, I learned once I was back at my PC, that my onward flight from JNB to Livingstone on the Monday had also been cancelled, so I had to spend most of the rest of the afternoon by the phone, sorting that out. This all made for a somewhat surreal day, until the previous day, I’d still expected that if I saw an otter, it would be at either dusk or dawn, I never imagined that I would get a great view and photos like these in the middle of the day, nor that it would happen in the middle of trying to sort out a travel nightmare. If I hadn’t seen it the day before, I wouldn’t have gone out to look, and with all of my travel problems, I could have very easily decided, I did not have time to go out at all, however, I always travel very light, so I knew packing would take no time at all, and a bit of time out in nature, is always a good idea, when you are stressed. Seeing this otter helped to put a smile back on my face and turned what would otherwise have been a really bad day, into not such a bad day, and one I will remember for a very long time.


Although I have captured some trail camera footage since, I’ve not actually seen an otter since, I may have to go out on a few early morning searches, when the weather improves, a quick search for spraint since my previous post was unsuccessful, so it may be that they have gone elsewhere for a while, otters can breed all the year round, but they do tend to breed in the spring, so I suspect if they are breeding, they will have gone elsewhere to find somewhere more suitable, as the lake where I have filmed them is pretty small, but I’m sure they will return at some point.  


For more info on UK otters UK Wild Otter Trust  

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It might have taken me a long while to see my first Eurasian Otter in Britain, but I had already seen a number of other species in the wild, such as Spot-necked, Cape Clawless, Asian Clawless and Neotropical River Otter, but I don’t have any photos of them, the last of these is the only one I have photographed, but I only caught its back as it was diving and the shot was out of focus. I have though seen and successfully photographed two other species on my travels.



Smooth-coated otters Periyar Lake in Periyar National Park in Kerala in India







I’m confident that these otters seen in Periyar National Park in Kerala in South India are Smooth-coated Otters (Lutrogale perspicillata), a species found in South and Southeast Asia. A rare subspecies the Iraq Smooth-coated Otter or Maxwell’s Otter (Lutrogale p. maxwelli), is found in the marshes of Southern Iraq, these otters were discovered by the Scottish naturalist and writer Gavin Maxwell, who travelled to the Mesopotamian Marshes of Southern Iraq with the explorer Wilfred Thesiger, in 1956 he brought an otter cub named Mijbil back to the UK, and took it to the West Coast of Scotland, it became the subject of his book Ring of Bright Water, one of the great classics of nature writing. The huge wetlands that are the main habitat of these Iraqi otters, are also home to the Marsh Arabs, significant areas of the marshes were drained by British engineers in the 1950s to create agricultural land, at the end of the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein’s regime drained most of the remaining marshes, to punish the Marsh Arabs for their part in the Shia uprising. So little of the marshland remained afterwards, that it was feared that Maxwell’s otter, was likely extinct, however, after the overthrow of Saddam, the Marsh Arabs aided by the Iraqi government and UN agencies amongst others, have reflooded significant areas of the marshes, this has only restored a portion of the marshes, largely because of dams in Syria and Turkey, but recent surveys indicate that the otters have recovered and are doing well, surprisingly they have also been found further north, outside of their previously known range, in areas that were thought to be solely inhabited by Eurasian Otters.


THE STATUS OF IRAQ SMOOTH-COATED OTTER Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli Hayman 1956 AND EURASIAN OTTER Lutra lutra Linnaeus 1758 IN IRAQ


Smooth-coated Otter map

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The Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is the largest otter species, the African Clawless Otter is the second largest, at least in terms of length, the Sea Otter whilst it does not grow as long as either, is actually the heaviest member of the mustelid family. Giant Otters were originally found in all South American countries except Chile, they were once ruthlessly hunted for their pelts, driving the species close to extinction across much of its range, it is likely that they were extirpated from Uruguay and it was thought possibly from Argentina, their exact status in either country is uncertain. Although most information on Giant Otters states that the species is extinct in Uruguay, there have been claimed sightings from the country in recent years, so it is possible that a very small number might survive there


What do we know about Pteronura brasiliensis in Uruguay?



 In 2012, the park ranger Walter Sosa, of San Miguel National Park (department of Rocha) told one of the authors (EMG) that, in 2008, he observed a giant otter within the Park, in the San Luis Stream.    The only species occurring in the park with which the giant otter could be confused is the Neotropical river otter. The park ranger informed us that he could see clear and well-defined spots in the throat area of the individual from a distance of 15m. Mr. Christophe Auguin observed an individual in the Yerbal Stream (department of Treinta y Tres) in 2012 whose description corresponds to a giant otter. Mr. Auguin and his wife saw the otter for several minutes in a small sandy beach of the river, and it was possible to see the throat spots and the characteristics of the tail.


Perhaps if a proper thorough search for Giant Otters was conducted, in all of the areas where they could still occur, it might be found that they are not extinct in Uruguay after all. In Argentina the situation also seemed to be unclear, no Giant Otters had been seen in the country for 40 years, until amazingly one suddenly appeared just this year.


Sebastian di Martino director of conservation at Fundación Rewilding Argentina was kayaking along the Bermejo River in Argentina’s Impenetrable National Park, when he saw a Giant Otter and filmed the animal, providing definite confirmation of his sighting. Where the otter came from is a bit of a mystery, as the nearest population is hundreds of miles away in the Paraguayan Pantanal, this at least raises the possibility that Giant Otters were never extirpated from the country and somehow managed to survive unseen in Argentina until now.


Giant otter thought to be extinct in Argentina resurfaces. Literally



Giant Otters are also being reintroduced, as part of the project to restore the Ibera Wetlands, a pair named Coco and Alondra are kept in an enclosure in the park, they recently produced three pups, when the pups are big enough the family will be released to live in the wild. The plan is presumably to bring in more captive otters and create additional family groups that can be released.


Whilst otters are not generally hunted for their pelts anymore, they still face plenty of threats from habitat destruction, and pollution caused by illegal gold mining, and persecution by fishermen, who dislike them as they believe they reduce fish stocks. However, where they are well protected, they seem to be fairly common and can be seen quite easily.    


Giant Otters are one of my favourite animals, because they are such a joy to watch, they are one of the most social of otter species living in large family groups and certainly the most vocal, making the most extraordinary sounds as they interact with each other. I have been fortunate to see Giant Otters on all of my visits to South American, my first sighting was in Ecuador, staying at Sacha Lodge in the Ecuadorian Amazon, it wasn’t however, a great sighting, whilst boating along a small river, we saw a large splash, after an otter had launched itself off the bank into the water, but I didn’t get much of a view of the animal and certainly no photos.


My most memorable sighting was in Brazil at Southwild Pantanal known at the time as the Pantanal Wildlife Centre, sat on my own against the bank of the Rio Pixaim in the middle of the day, at a spot where I’d had a brief view of a single otter the previous day, the same otter reappeared and swam very close to where I was sitting, to check me out.





Ariranha - Giant Otter






Ariranha - Giant Otter


This curiosity and boldness is what nearly brought about the downfall of the Giant Otter, a man armed with a gun rather than a camera, could shoot an otter that behaved like this, very easily.


Brazil, Birds, Beasts and Big Waters

Edited by inyathi
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I have also seen eurasian otter during the day and like you observed @inyathi they seem to favour one area for a while and then become elusive again. For instance I saw otter quite often for a few weeks in the autumn on a stretch of the wensum just 5 min walk from me but I have not seen one at all this year. 



Edited by kittykat23uk
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@kittykat23ukGreat videos, regrettably I didn't have have the video option when I first went to Brazil, when we found some giant otters at their holt, the view was not great but their calls were just extraordinary, I would love to have had video just to capture the sound. I think since otters have now been protected in the UK for a good while, they are probably more diurnal, than they perhaps used to be, whether you see them or not may depend on how used to people they are, I don't expect to get lucky and see my otter/s again that well, I've not seen any spraint which makes me think they've moved on, if I'd found some I would have put my trail camera up, but when I put new batteries in it, it didn't switch on, so maybe it's dead, I don't know :(.



Some Giant Otters in Parque Estadual Encontro das Águas in the Pantanal in 2012


large.Bra0892.jpg.718f9260fa91b803e806e8267be70e4d.jpg (1000×667)   






large.Bra0911.jpg.eb6bb4182af4726f50091326cd3e70d0.jpg (1000×667)






From 2016















This shot shows off the unique spots on a Giant Otters neck, that make it possible to tell different otters apart





I considered clearing up the following photos to make them less misty, but as they are they show how awful the weather was, this was the only time I've seen them fully out of the water. 












A good view of an otters tail, that illustrates why they are such fast swimmers






In 2016 I did have a camera that can shoot video, but I only took some very short sequences and unfortunately didn't capture any of their calls 



Edited by inyathi
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Whilst visiting Guyana in between my two visits to Brazil, I had a lucky and unexpected sighting of a Giant Otter whilst on a bird walk from Atta Lodge, along the main road through the Iwokrama Forest, standing on a bridge over a very small river, we saw an otter swimming around amongst some fallen branches.



Giant otter in a river near Atta Lodge Iwokrama Forest Guyana


Later during my trip, we saw a single otter whilst boating on the Rupununi River, but it kept it’s distance and I wasn’t able to take any photos, the only other Giant Otter I saw, was a young orphaned otter being looked after by the late Diane Mc Turk (1932-2016) at her home Karanambu Ranch, during her extraordinary life, she raised and released some 50 orphaned otters back in to the Rupununi to live their lives in the wild. Knowing this I was somewhat surprised, not to see any wild otters whilst staying at Karanambu, I guess we were slightly unlucky.




Karanambu Lodge, Guyana, Diane McTurk in 2014 with her latest orphaned giant otter




Diane McTurk – The Otter Lady and Founder of Karanambu Lodge


Assuming it wasn't just bad luck, I don't know why Guyana didn't prove to be a better place to see Giant Otters, although I did have better views than in Ecuador, Guyana doesn't get as many tourists as the Pantanal in Brazil and that could be a factor, in the Pantanal the otters are very used to all of the tourist boats and fishermen's boats going up and down, there weren't any other boats, when we were boating on the Rupununi, that is one of the attractions of Guyana, the wildlife sightings on offer might not compare, but it sure is more peaceful.  


Drinking Rum Punch in the Rupununi


If you really want to see Giant Otters then you can't beat the Pantanal, but one of the next best places I would suggest is Lake Sandoval in Peru. 

Edited by inyathi
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