An encounter with Smooth Otters


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skfoo

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Otters are known to visit Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR). To be exact, they are called Smooth Otters (Lutra/Lutrogale perspicillata). They are the largest otters in Southeast Asia. I will not be surprised it they have become permanent residents of SBWR. They are extremely good, agile swimmers and always a pleasure to watch whether they are foraging for food, playing and well in this case, taking an afternoon nap.

Make no mistakes, these are wild creatures. Their instinct will tell them to flee if they felt threatened or are in danger. You can imagine the satisfaction and happiness I felt when I managed to make my way towards them. In another words, they actually accepted my presence and were comfortable enough to continue with their daily activities. The short time I was with them, they seemed more wary of noise make by visitors who talked loudly then my sound of my shutter. This is way cool if you ask me. I was armed with a Nikon 300mm VR, Nikon D3, 1.4X and 1.7X tele-converters (used interchangeably) attached to a tripod. I managed to observe some interesting behaviour too! Here’s my story.

I saw some otters from a distance. They had found themselves a place to dry their bodies and rest. Using a tree between us to block my profile, I slowly approached them. When they were not looking, I moved to in front of the tree and stood down with the gears in front of me. One of the Smooth Otters noted my presence and gave out a growl as warning signal to the other otters. I remained very still, hiding my face behind the camera and peeping through the view finder only when I felt the coast was clear. Initially I was unable to have a clear shot as grasses were blocking my lens. Using duck walk and taking care not to step on the grasses planted by SBWR staff, I adjust myself to a position so that I could photograph the otters without being totally blocked. You could see the otters were looking at me, most likely accessing if I am a threat.





(to be continue)
 

skfoo

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Sometimes when noisy visitors passed by, they would raise their heads and looked in that directions. Once the otters decided to continue with their nap, I duck walked a few steps towards them, again taking care not to step on those planted grass. But I soon learnt that it was not a good move. I have unknowingly positioned myself close to a path of an army of red ants! I knew whatever I do, my actions must not alarm the otters. I have to move away slowly and was prepared to be bittern by the red ants. As it turned out, I was not bittern at all! When I felt the otters were comfortable with my presence, I duck walked forward. The view has became much clearer now.







 

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skfoo

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This relationship could have lasted longer if not for some visitors who got excited by the presence of a Malayan Water Monitor Lizard a few metres behind me. I looked back to their direction in hope to get their attention. But they did not even see me! One by one, the otters started yawing, scratching their body before moving further away.





 

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skfoo

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Here is another part of the encounter that I found interesting. One otter went to pass motion and pee on a rock. Soon the other otters followed, doing the same things around the same area! There is a leader among them. The rest are followers! I was trying to photograph these from my awkward position that I forgotten to count how many otters were there! Here are some images showing them doing “the things”.







Eventually, they plunged into the sea nearby and continue playing. I could hear them calling to each other. Their calls became fainter as they swam further and further away.
 

cichlid

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good catch..the behaviour of the otters in the images that you've captured reminds me of cats ;p
 

Simon_84

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is hard to spot them in Sungei Buloh, guess you are very lucky that day.
 

wendylim

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So nice and interesting photos! :D
 

mphil

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Definitely got some winners here. Personally, I'd rather not post those pics of them doing their biz. if you know what I mean.
 

chngpe01

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Well done SK, and thanks for these wonderful images and also the write up.

BTW congratulations for winning the TOP PRIZE for the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Photography Competition 2009
http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/showthread.php?p=4965466#post4965466

Can't seems to find any link to the winning images or announcement.
 

Jasengoh

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:thumbsup: you are so lucky!!
 

skfoo

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Guys,

Thanks for the comments. To be accepted by the subject is one of those "high" moments for nature photographers. ;)
 

skfoo

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Well done SK, and thanks for these wonderful images and also the write up.

BTW congratulations for winning the TOP PRIZE for the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Photography Competition 2009
http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/showthread.php?p=4965466#post4965466

Can't seems to find any link to the winning images or announcement.
Thanks my friend, the winning images are currently displayed at SBWR. :)
 

stonefish35

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Congrats on the win, and nice images. Saw the otters swimming when I was up on the tower in Dec 2008.
 

skfoo

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Can't seems to find any link to the winning images or announcement.
Thanks to Micky for the images on the event that took place at SBWR last Saturday. The star is actually the book launch. Those interested can view the A2/A3 size images at SBWR and buy the book at a special price of $8 (normal $10). Just trying to promote the book though none of the images was mine. :)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mickylim/
 

GCSpyder

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Congratulations, SK, on your well-deserved win!!

Really enjoyed reading your intimate encounter with the otters and the accompanying images. i have seen them on occasions in SBWR. They are definitely gregarious and boisterous in the water. Their splashes and calls are clearly audible and fun to watch. Hope they take up permanent residence in that area and provide joy for many to come. :thumbsup::thumbsup:

Cheers..
 

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