River Otters Revealed

If you’re a regular visitor to Lost Lagoon, chances are you’ve come across Stanley Park’s playful river otters sliding on the ice, or rolling in the mud. Known commonly as the North American river otter, these playful carnivorous critters hunt, play, and den in Stanley Park, but SPES’ Conservation staff aren’t certain exactly how many families of otters there are, or where their den(s) are located. If you see otters together you’re likely looking at a mother and her pups. Otter females rear up to six young by themselves.

Otter family in Lost Lagoon (Photo: Mark T White)

We suspect the otters have multiple feeding sites in areas of the Park other than Lost Lagoon, as they are frequently spotted resting and playing along the seawall and on Siwash Rock, and have been known to hunt other mammals and birds along Beaver Creek.

The river otter’s strong tail and elongated body make it a terrific swimmer, and their excellent vision make them comfortable hunting in the water just as easily as on land. They can stay under water for up to eight minutes and can close their ears and nostrils to keep out water. You’ll see river otters not only in the lakes of Stanley Park, but also swimming along its beaches. For this reason, many people confuse them with sea otters. Sea otters, however, rarely come to shore and are only found on the west coast of Vancouver Island and further north along the BC coast.

SPES’s trailcam footage captured some of the Park’s otters playing and sliding on a beaver lodge in Lost Lagoon:

Thanks to HSBC Freshwater Initiatives in Stanley Park for funding our trail cam monitoring of otters and other wildlife among the freshwater habitats in Stanley Park.

By Kari Pocock, Stewardship Coordinator