Image: Wooden planks washed up ashore by the strong winds this past November?
About three months ago, one of my colleagues stumbled upon an adorable scene. One might think that the picture above is of pieces of driftwood on a now very quiet beach from the temporary closure of the property for renovation work. They are actually otters!
Image: Those "planks" stood up! Oh wait, they are OTTERS!
This romp of otters is most probably a family of Asian small-clawed otters (Aonyx cinerea). The Asian small-clawed otter is the smallest species of otter in the world and mostly inhabits freshwater systems. Once in a while, it can be seen swimming in the sea, perhaps to hunt. Sometimes, it will play on a beach when travelling in a family as seen in the video below, giving it an apt counting noun of a “romp” of otters.
Riverine otters are known to inhabit the inland waterbodies of our bay and many guests have seen them swimming in calm seas and surfing in the waves. Some guests have been lucky enough to observe a small family of otters (up to three to four individuals) run ashore and stand up to investigate the surroundings! But a large family of otters like in this incident this past November is quite uncommon, thus making this a very special moment for my colleague. I am truly envious of her.
Image: A picture captured by one of our wildlife camera traps sometime beginning of 2017. Judging from the back digits (short claws) and the size of the individuals, this otter species could be the Asian small-clawed otter.