River Otters of Juanita Bay

North American River Otters are among my favorite creatures to observe! I love their playfulness and their intelligence so much. These top predators have a pivotal role in river ecosystems. They help control the populations of food species they prey upon. This affects the ecosystem as a whole, and as a result, their presence is a sign that the ecosystem is healthy and functional, which is great news for the rich and diverse ecosystem of Jaunita Bay! I have been wanting to photograph them up close for a while, but despite numerous visits to the wetlands of the bay, I have had no good luck. But as with anything, when you persist, things fall into place.

These photographs were all taken on the Nikon D850. I used a Sigma 150-600 Contemporary lens for some of the shots, and the Nikon 600mm FL ED VR for the rest. Ok enough talk, let’s take a look at these photographs! These were all processed in Capture One Pro 12 and finalized in Adobe Photoshop CC.


As the sun got closer to the horizon, long shadows started spreading over the bay, creating little pools of light that made the Lilly pads look so interesting . It really was the perfect setting for this river otter to come up on a log and start munching away on the day’s catch; fresh, juicy, giant snails. And that is exactly what followed!


On another evening, one of them came up really close to me with a snail in its mouth and literally posed for the camera, in the middle of gobbling down some tasty escargot! Keep scrolling down to see those moments!


When not in the mood for giant snails, they regularly catch and eat catfish. Whenever I have seen that happen, they have been too far for me to take a decent photograph, but one time, this individual decided to come up on a nearby log and started munching on a big, juicy, catfish! I enjoyed these shots so much, particularly because of the storytelling composition, where predator- prey interaction is shown in such great form and light.
Fun fact: After watching this guy eat that tasty catfish, I went to the market and bought one and prepared it blackened with Cajun spices and made a delicious dinner that same night!

Once they have had their fill, they retreat back to their dens somewhere along the banks of Forbes creek, only to be back again the next day living the quintessential otter life! I am really looking forward to more otter encounters in future and hopefully this autumn will be a good one for some otter photography!