River Otters live in the Estero Americano. On my recent visit I saw six of them—five in one group and a solo Otter near Whale’s Tail. This one appeared to have caught a fish.


Four other otters were nearby. It wasn’t long before they saw me.


When they became aware of me they swam across the estuary to the opposite shore.


This is the group of four other otters nearby.

As I had noticed before on Tomales Bay, the otters swam toward the sun so that soon I was seeing their shadowed side.


Looking into the sun makes it harder to see and photograph them. I do not know if they swim toward the sun instinctively or whether they know that this behavior makes them harder to see. Perhaps it had simply been a coincidence that their “escape” from my attention in both cases required them to swim toward the sun.

One of them popped up to have a good look at me.


I think they eventually decided I was taking too much interest in their activities. One by one each of them climbed out of the water into some shoreline shrubbery, and disappeared.

Tomorrow: Buckeyes



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.