River Otters Mating on Drake’s Estero

Point Reyes National Seashore does not allow kayaking in Drake’s Estero from March through June because harbor seals use that estuary for pupping season. But I really wanted to go out there today…. so I went.

They do allow non-paddling visitors. I decided to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine by bicycle for the last 12 miles of the trip.

Bike at Launch cropped

Less than 10 minutes into this 26 mile three-hour ride,  I approached the low bridge that crosses the inlet to Drake Estero’s Schooner Bay.

Schooner Bay Bridge 4:5:16

I spotted a Great Blue Heron in the mudflat near the bridge.

GBH at Bridge 4:5:16

The bird didn’t seem at all concerned about being photographed, though it was definitely aware of me. It wasn’t distracted by fishing.

The heron was watching something happening nearby. It flew off in toward the bridge to have a closer look. A pair of River Otters were mating.

Otters Mating

I took a lot of photos and video as the river otter mating proceeded. Below is a two-minute clip edited out of a much longer take. Toward the end of it you’ll see the female try to escape from the male’s coupling, and fail.

After watching them for almost a half hour, I began to feel for the female. She did not seem to be enjoying her mate’s insistent attention. Finally it was just too much. I put my camera to the bike bag and pedaled off.

Apologies for the wind noise in the microphone. Estuarian reader, Darris shares this link about aggressive mating behavior appears to be present in sea otters as well as river otters.

More about this bicycling adventure tomorrow.

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