Catching a sighting of a Eurasian otter amongst the seaweed beds of north west Scotland takes patience and a whole lot of luck. Despite being notoriously difficult to see these spellbinding creatures are absolutely synonymous with this rugged rocky coastline, weaving between kelp and catching fish at every turn. The population densities of otters surrounding the Inner Hebrides are amongst the highest in the country, with an abundance of prey and sparse human populations being a real bonus for this mustelid.
Enduring plenty of empty days filming in the field are more than made up for when you have a close encounter with one of these magical creatures, it seems fitting the UK's most spectacular mammal keeps its cards close to its chest!
The Eurasian otter is a semi-aquatic member of the weasel family (mustelids) and is the mostly widely distributed of all otters. They are a largely solitary creature, feeding in lakes, rivers or the sea, e ating around 1–1.5kg of prey daily.
The otter was lost from most of England and Wales between the 1950s and the 1970s because of pesticide pollution of waterways. But it survived in Scotland’s cleanest bodies of water in the north and west.
Today, the species is flourishing across Scotland and has recovered well across the UK as waterways are cleaned up. The Scottish population is estimated to be around 8000 otters, as of 2011 the species can also now be found in every English county. Unusually, the Scottish otter population has a large number of coastal-dwelling individuals, which feed almost exclusively in the sea.