Friday, October 22, 2010

Wild Otters of CHILE

Endangered Marine Otters (Lontra felina) Chile

I spent 6 weeks in South America this past winter, getting the first-ever in-depth coverage of the smallest marine mammal in the world : the Marine Otter.  No larger than a housecat, this little otter is found along the cold water coasts of southern Peru and Chile, and is endangered due to a long history of fur-hunting and competition with fishermen.

This was a difficult project, to say the least. When I could even find the animals, I had to shoot them from a moving boat - which was typically getting hammered (along with the photographer) by the rough seas. In fact, I lost my primary telephoto lens (the Nikon 200-400) to a rogue wave, on the first day of the shoot.  (Happily, FEDEX was able to get me another lens within a week..)

To be honest, some key parts of the story never came together : I was unable to get pictures of these fast-moving otters underwater, and camera traps gave me only a handful of fleeting portraits.  But if I didn't get everything I wanted, I have the satisfaction of knowing I got more pictures of this little-known animal than have ever been taken - pictures that will help tell their important story.  Pictures can be powerful advocates, and I have made these pictures available to those working to save this wonderful, but threatened, animal.

Nikon D3, 500mm lens


  1. beautiful shots
    another lovely animal that very few photographers even think of photographing,
    sadly many photographers never think about shooting anything other than the lions, tigers, elephants, polar bears etc. from comfortable vehicles.
    how can v expect people to care about these lesser known species, if we do not even have images to show their beauty to the world.
    Thanks for sharing

  2. Thank you for the lovely pictures. I am teaching children in Iquique Chile about this animal. They have lovely character lessons to teach us.