An Otter Runs Through it

An Otter Runs Through it


BEST IN SHOW in 'Showcase 2015' of the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), Mammals Category.
SECOND PRIZE in 'Share the View 2014' of the Audubon Society of Greater Denver.

 

During the 2012 annual summer spawn of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri) in the Upper Lamar Valley of Yellowstone, this female North American river otter (Lontra Canadensis) caught four trout in the span of a few minutes. She delivered one to each of her three offspring before eating the last one herself.  

 

I have photographed otters at this location since 2006, and this was new behavior.  In the past, the female adult would eat the fish and leave the young to scavenge for the scraps. If they tried to get some of her fish, the mom would spin away and continue eating.  What was different in 2012,was that one of her young had an injured back and paralyzed back legs.  He was able to swim, but unable to climb out of the water onto the log.  The mom placed a trout in a depression on a low-floating log where it was trapped, and the little one could eat free from interference by its siblings because each had its own trout.

 

I used a slow shutter speed and panned to blur the background and to give a sense of motion.  Yellowstone National Park, USA.  Canon 1D M IV, 500mm lens, ISO 400 at 1/60 at f/7.1  -  No Bait, Natural Light.