I rose early and headed out for a little kayak photography on a gray and foggy morning. I arrived at my put in, and somehow there was just something in the air… or maybe the water. It just felt like an otter sort of day, and I thought to myself that I would get lucky and have an encounter.
I paddled across the silent still waters of Tomales Bay. The occasional yet very distant seal head rose above the surface. A few fishing boats were about already, motoring their steady way along the bay, getting ready for a little trolling. I snapped a few shots of the fog enshrouded bay, nothing too exciting, but fun nonetheless. When I reached the far side, I turned north and began making my way along the shoreline. I only went a few hundred yards, before I came across them.
I watched them as they hunted the waters close to the shore, herding fish in front of them and also searching for crabs and other invertebrates. After a short while they became aware of me, but did not seem overly concerned, as I had not approached especially close. As I sat there in my kayak, watching them, they romped their way towards me.
I was fairly close to shore, and as they passed me, they decided to take to land for a short stretch to avoid the small piece of water that I was occupying in my unmoving kayak. Once they passed me, they returned to the water. Not wanting to disturb their routine, I headed farther from shore to shadow them and watch from a greater distance.
They seemed to work and hunt in unison, winding and threading their way amongst each other, changing direction with each other. Then they seemed to reach a spot that they all knew. In a charging romp they left the water together and went charging up the shore into the twisted roots and branches of a small copse of trees on the shore. I assume it is where their den was. I could hear the crashing and breaking of branches as they played and wreaked havoc inside.
It was at this point that I stopped taking still pictures. I sat out there, far from shore, and decided to wait a short time to see if they would come back out, that I might film them… and they did. The story continues with video here.
For more photographs of otters, you can visit this page- River otters: An extensive essay in photos. There is some text, but it is mostly images.