There are two types of otter species you might find around Vancouver: First is the more elusive Sea Otter, like the Internet-famous rescued pup Joey at the Vancouver Aquarium, which is mainly found on the west coast of Vancouver Island and further north along the BC coast. Second, there are the River Otters in Lost Lagoon and surrounding bodies of water.
River Otters in Lost Lagoon
This past weekend while out for a stroll in the neighbourhood, John and I came across the otters in Lost Lagoon who were splashing, swimming, and snacking on something delectable they found in the reeds. I was pretty thrilled since, as a runner who gets into the park far more often than me, John has seen much more wildlife in Stanley Park than I have. He’s spotted coyotes, otters, eagles, beavers, and more.
“We suspect the otters have multiple feeding sites in areas of the Park other than Lost Lagoon [Ch’ekxwa’7lech], as they are frequently spotted resting and playing along the seawall and on Siwash Rock [Slhx̱í7lsh], and have been known to hunt other mammals and birds along Beaver Creek,” notes the Stanley Park Ecology Society.
“The river otter’s strong tail and elongated body make it a terrific swimmer, and their excellent vision make them comfortable hunting in the water just as easily as on land. They can stay under water for up to eight minutes and can close their ears and nostrils to keep out water. You’ll see river otters not only in the lakes of Stanley Park, but also swimming along its beaches.”
Here are a few more differences between the two otters: “Found in both saltwater and freshwater, a river otter lounges around riverbanks and swims with its belly down, keeping the majority of its body submerged below the water,” according to the Ocean Conservancy.
“Sea otters, conversely, are found only in salt water and rarely go on land. They even have the adorable habit of floating on their backs, even while they’re eating, and have been known to hold hands with each other while sleeping so they don’t drift apart from their pals.”
The next time you’re out and about around Lost Lagoon, look for some movement in the reeds, and follow the trail of bubbles in the water, and you might just spot these playful creatures. Be sure to keep your distance to respect the wildlife.