A close encounter like no otter

Two river otters peeping their heads above the water (Photo by Nila Sivatheesan/NCC staff)

Two river otters peeping their heads above the water (Photo by Nila Sivatheesan/NCC staff)

November 1, 2023 | by Nila Sivatheesan

Walking through fields of wildflowers and towering trees is an incredible feeling. It reminds me that there’s so much more to this life than just me and my bubble. It’s a humbling feeling. But what’s even more incredible is seeing wildlife in their natural habitat. It’s a reminder that we share this Earth with so many different beings, from tiny insects to large mammals.

I love being surrounded by nature and wildlife. It’s the best feeling. Growing up in Toronto, I’d look for those pockets of urban nature near home and spend my weekends hiking and photographing the wildlife around me. So when my husband and I moved to Vancouver in late summer, one of the first things we did was find some urban nature spots to explore. Luckily, Stanley Park is just a few minutes away from where we live.

On our first visit to Stanley Park, my goal was to explore some of the trails and get to know the park, but I wasn’t expecting to see so much wildlife! We saw great blue herons, a family of raccoons and wood ducks, but the most exciting wildlife sighting was that of a family of North American river otters.

Nestled in the tall grasses on the edge of a pond were three river otters snuggled up together. A few more were in the water. Most of the otters stayed close together, but there were two that ventured away from the group. They began swimming back and forth in the water, climbing over logs and branches, and chasing each other as if they were playing tag. We were able to follow their movement underwater thanks to bubbles that appeared on the surface right above where they swam.

It was my first time seeing river otters, and watching them playfully swim together was such a joy!

Throughout the 1800s, river otters were facing population decline due to water pollution and over-harvesting. However, thanks to conservation and reintroduction efforts, their populations are now considered stable. In fact, they have been spotted near many urban areas, including Toronto and Vancouver.

River otters need healthy aquatic habits to survive, and your support contributes to protecting habitat across Canada where river otters live. One example is NCC’s Elk Valley Heritage Conservation Area near Fernie, BC. This area features extensive low-lying wetlands that are perfect habitat for river otters.

How you can help:

Looking for an eco-friendly gift idea this holiday season? Give the gift of a river otter through the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s symbolic adoption program and support conservation efforts that help this species thrive!

North American river otters are one of 17 species and habitat options available for symbolic adoption program. Learn more >

Nila Sivatheesan

About the Author

Nila Sivatheesan is the Nature Conservancy of Canada's digital media coordinator.

Read more about Nila Sivatheesan.

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