20 August 2011

Semakau Otter Overload!

Today, I managed a longer look at the otter at Pulau Semakau!
Thanks to Subaraj, who first spotted the otter on our recent trip, I decided to go back to the same spot to look for it. On that trip, I missed the otter by seconds!

This was my first glimpse of the otter from far FAR away.
It was swimming in a pool of water near a heron (otter head in yellow circle). The pool left behind by the lowish tide was teeming with fishes that were splashing about.
The pool attracted other creatures too, like this raptor that suddenly swooped onto some splashing fishes. The otter's head is in the right edge.
Also hunting on the edge of the water was a fat little shorebird (lower left corner).
At first, I thought there were TWO otters. But a closer look at my photo (in the field this time) made me realise that the other (on the left) is a Malayan water monitor.
The water monitor was right next to the heron.
There were actually TWO monitor lizards on the sand bar!
Eventually, the otter seemed to have chased the water monitors away.
As the otter swam about in the pool, I often got photos of it with its mouth open.
Here's another shot of it with its mouth open. But I couldn't hear any barking or other sounds.
Every time the otter was underwater, I snuck up a little closer along the shore, hiding behind the trees. That's how I took some of the photos above. Eventually, I thought the otter had left. So I started to walk off. But the otter came back! Oh dear, it squeezed right among the many fishing nets strung up at the mangrove trees here.
I then noticed there were still some fishing nets strung around the mangrove trees. Although a small team recently did try to remove as many as we could, there were too many nets to do in one trip!
Although I was still hidden behind a tree (the green fuzzy bits around the photo are the leaves of the tree), the otter noticed me.
After giving me a long suspicious look ...
It calmly walked back into the trees.
With a final look at me.
It then lay down and waited among the tall mangrove roots. I decided I had disturbed it enough and left it alone to hunt.
As I quietly explored another part of the mangroves, I came across otter footprints!
Here's a closer look.
The otter sure does get around in the mangroves and I hope it stays safe and happy on Pulau Semakau! More about the Smooth otter (Lutrogale perspicillata), which is listed as Critically Endangered.

Although I've seen otters at Sungei Buloh, Chek Jawa, Changi and even at Woodlands Park, this is my most memorable otter sighting!

After this distraction, I had a closer look at the mysterious 'white patch' in the middle of the mangroves.

Federick Ho shares on his amazing Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature blog, more about the butterflies seen during this trip. With his usual wondrous photos and lots of information about them.


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