River otters are an uncommon sight where I live, for our creeks are too irregular and shallow. But not far away, the playful animals have been seen in rivers and, sadly, in roads. River otters generally live in small families consisting of a mother and her offspring. They’re always playing and can move equally well on water and land. When used to people, they can even be posers. The two otters at the NC zoo posed for me last time I visited. They gave me the wonderful reference for this painting! Having otters in the local water is a lucky thing to have – not just because they’re uncommon, but because they’re sensitive to pollution. Otters can tell when waters are damaged and they will leave their home to safer areas. In the past years, otters have been in a “threatened” status because they were hunted for their shiny, soft fur. Several tens of thousands were hunted in one year, killing the entire population is New Mexico, Florida, and most of South Carolina. They’ve been reintroduced to many of the affected areas are bringing back these beautiful creatures.
No matter where the river otter goes, they’re always on a journey. Maybe to the next den, maybe to fresher water, or possibly the next adventure. I’m proud to call river otters my neighbors (even if the creeks nearby are empty…for now.)
“The Journey” 18x24” acrylic on canvas. © Cara Bevan 2010
Time: 60 hrs 10 min