|Credit/ John Reinke|
On a recent walk along the Sammamish River, I spotted a couple of river otters swimming southbound underneath the 90th Street bridge. They were merrily cavorting along, undulating in and out of the water and acting like they were having the time of their life. I hurriedly pulled out my camera and followed them nearly a half mile, as they swam against the current. I managed to get off a few shots along the way.
Just before they reached the old wooden railroad bridge, one of them climbed up on a partially exposed log near the opposite bank. I was thus able to snap a good photo is it posed regally with its mouth agape.
I have occasionally seen individual otters in the river in the past, but never two together. Friends of mine have also reported seeing a mother otter with baby otters (known as kits) in the river a few years ago. According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, river otters are fairly common throughout the state, although they are not often seen. Males average 4 feet in length, including the tail, and weigh 20 -28 lbs. Females are somewhat smaller.
Otters typically feed on smaller fish such as carp, mud minnows, stickle backs and suckers. They will also eat freshwater mussels, crayfish, frogs, birds and small mammals such as muskrats, mice and young beavers.
Next time you walk along the river trail, be on the lookout. Maybe you'll see one.
-- John Reinke,
The Otter Spotter