Otters in Singapore

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Singapore is not particularly known for it’s wildlife. There is some of course, but mainly of the reptilian variety, plus a few monkeys and assorted rather noisy birds. I’m doing the country a slight disservice here, but I can’t see David Attenborough beating a path here anytime soon.

The newish Gardens by the Bay has been open for a couple of years now, and it is situated on either side of the Marina bay barrage area, with the rather more interesting Wyndham triffid like structures of the Super trees on the West side, and a relatively under developed but tranquil garden on the East.

The pathway that runs between the bay and the Flower dome on the West bank forms one of the cities more interesting running and cycling tracks, and its one that I myself use several times a week. For over a year now I’ve seen a prominent, but incongruous sign alongside this path, informing passers by, that Otters are nearby, and may be crossing the pathway. Quite why they might be crossing this busy path is not entirely clear, though there are some largish ponds that might be quite a nice foray for a visiting otter. Either that or they’re on route to Orchard Road for a spot of shopping. Anyway, suffice to say, that in all the four years I’ve been in Singapore, I’ve seen neither hide nor hare of any otter.

Last weekend, I was flying my drone off the East side of the bay, early on a Saturday morning. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed some unusual shapes, swimming along, about twenty metres or so from the bank. Sure enough, there they were, a family of five otters, on patrol, seemingly fairly oblivious to both me, the passing joggers, and the drone buzzing about 30 metres above their heads. Unfortunately, my flying skills are not great, and while I tried to track them, I only managed a few seconds of video, and even those were by accident (see video above). Being able to observe them directly overhead, allows you to see the way in which the otters uses it’s powerful tail and long body, to propel themselves, like a giant elongated tadpole.

Having finally seen these delightful creatures, I did a bit of on-line research. Turns out there have been quite a few sightings, and the ones I saw may have been the result of a pair that managed to breed back in 2014. There is also some great footage of them taking a good old sand bath (video below), seemingly quite at home putting on a public show.

As well as the bay, there are also sightings of them at various water courses around the city, including Bisham, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Kallang and the Singapore river. Back home in the UK, otters are still a rare sight, though in recent years they have been making a comeback here and there, and I glimpsed a couple on the remote Isle of Mull in Scotland last year. To see them in a major metropolitan and densely populated city like Singapore, seems all the more remarkable.

Otter bath time
Some more Otters enjoying a sand bath
Otters at Sungei Buloh

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