January 16, 2013

Eurasian Otters, Shetland Islands

Photograph by Charlie Hamilton James

This Month in Photo of the Day: Animal Pictures

In the Shetland Islands a mother and two male cubs listen intently to the clicking of the photographer’s camera. The nose of the cub at right had a recent encounter with a crab. Adults don’t live as pairs, and males play no part in raising the young.

See more pictures from the February 2013 feature story "The Sultans of Streams."


See pictures of otters »
Explore the many shades of brown »

8 comments
Grace Yoxon
Grace Yoxon

Thanks Alexa.  It is good that National Geographic are keen to have the facts right.  

It is important that people know that there are indeed 13 species of otter worldwide and they are all at risk, largely as a result of man.  In the UK, the population does indeed seem to have improved as waters are cleaner but we also have to be wary as the data is based on spraint (droppings) which gives no indication of actual numbers.  The same otter may of course be recorded several times.

Over the last year there has been drought and floods - both of which are not good for otters.  In fact it was recently announced that 2012 was a bad year for otters.  So if they are being seen in new areas it could well be that they have been displaced from somewhere else or that their home ranges are now larger.

Only further studies will reveal the truth.

Grace M Yoxon

International Otter Survival Fund

Grace Yoxon
Grace Yoxon

A beautiful photo by Charlie.  There is just one thing I would point out and that is that these are NOT river otters.  They are the Eurasian otter and can live in the sea and in freshwater.  In fact the photo here is clearly in the sea - first clue is that it was taken on the Shetland Islands and the second and big clue is the seaweed in the picture!

I then followed the link to the article and again it calls them River Otters even though the article makes it quite clear what the species is.

Charlie knows perfectly well what they are and didn't make the mistake - I think National Geographic should make sure they have their facts correct.  It doesn't look good.

Grace Yoxon

International Otter Survival Fund

Myra Linara
Myra Linara

Great image. Do I detect a sense of curiosity here, anticipation perhaps?
I looked up Shetlands Islands and that was my  "exploration" for the day :D

Alexa Keefe
Alexa Keefe

@Grace Yoxon

Thank you for your comment. As you mentioned, the article itself refers to the otters correctly as Lutra lutra, or the Eurasian otter. Our previous title of "River Otters" was incorrect. We have fixed the error.


Greyling G
Greyling G

Thanks for investigating into this photo, because these cute critters deserve to be called what us humans really called them!   Great Photo by the way.

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