Life’s a beach for otters in Dorset

Friday 27th May 2011

Dorset Wildlife Trust has released extraordinary pictures of a coastal otter, illustrating the dramatic change in fortunes for this supreme predator. Photographer Jeremy Jeffery, visiting from Kent, was able to capture these images in broad daylight at West Bay in Dorset.

Dr Rachel Janes, Rivers and Wetlands Conservation Officer at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “This is the sort of photo you might expect from Scotland or the Northern Isles but it shows how well otters are doing in Dorset now. They are present on all our river catchments and they are also very happy to hunt along the coast.”

Otters have made a triumphant comeback in Dorset since the bleak days of near extinction in the county. In the 1970s only 1% of sites showed evidence of otters, due to a lethal combination of hunting and pesticides. Since the banning of both, as well as improvements in water quality and bankside management, this top river predator is now doing well right across the county. Dorset Wildlife Trust is receiving more daytime sightings than ever before, through its affiliated Dorset Otter Group of volunteer ‘otter spotters’, whose regular surveys have tracked the steady increase in numbers and range of otters.

Otters have made a triumphant comeback in Dorset

Dr Janes added: “While great improvements have been made to our river habitats, there is still work to be done to benefit the full range of river and coastal wildlife. We are working with our Dorset Wild Rivers partners to restore chalk stream habitat around the county, with help from fishermen, landowners and community groups. On the coast, volunteers are helping us with surveys on beaches and underwater. We can all celebrate this good news for otters and play our part in keeping our precious habitats in good shape for all wildlife.“

You can help Dorset Wildlife Trust clear invasive Himalayan Balsam from river banks in west Dorset on 4th, 5th, 18th or 19th of June. Meet at DWT’s Pound Cottage, Kingcombe at 10am. For more information contact Sarah Williams on 01305 264620.

To help with surveying your local seashore with Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Welly Zone project, contact Julie Hatcher on 01929 481044. 17th July Volunteer training in Weymouth & Portland.

Story by Dorset Wildlife Trust
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Image credit: Otter on West Bay beach by Jeremy Jeffery