Saturday, May 8, 2010


I've been trying to keep this blog upbeat and fun, but sometimes the darker side of real life can't help but make itself known. For all of the good efforts of many nature societies and government agencies with regards to public education and land conservation here, I still live in a county that is also struggling to support a populace trying to survive economically. (The summer tourism population is poles apart from the resident population.) As everyone knows, for all of the successes nature and people more often than not do not mix well.

So I suppose it shouldn't be surprising when I must admit that two out of only three sightings I have ever had of this animal (all here in Cape May County in the last 15 years) have been like this:

Bit hard to tell at first glance what this is as it seems to be more than a few days into decomposition (and the photo was a one-off as I was standing on the very narrow shoulder of a major highway to take the picture), but it is indeed (what's left of) a river otter. The color and quality of the fur and the size and shape of the body is what id'ed the remains for me as I zipped past at 50mph on my way to work the other morning.

(One hopes the flattened middle is not due to a tire; I didn't notice any obvious tread tracks, but the position and location of the body still make me suspicious as to the cause of death… I'm cynical enough, and have a low enough opinion of the general feeling of many people towards wildlife, but I sincerely hope no one is so sick as to purposely run over a river otter.)

For all of their vaunted playfulness, river otter (at least our river otter) seem to be very shy animals. Pity, that; they are lovely and amazing creatures. And apparently they aren't overly particular as to what kind of water they are in; they can be found in the fresh water lakes around here, this one and the other dead one I have seen must have been coming up from the brackish creeks that the roads cross, and I've seen a live one swimming in a much larger, and therefore more salty, inlet. I first learned that we had river otter in Cape May County when I asked a friend about some unusual footprints on the ocean beach at Cape May Point and he confirmed the only logical explanation for the traces of dog-sized webbed feet marching over the dune crossover…

[Here would be a photo of and a link to a real, live otter photographed in Cape May this spring, but the View From the Cape archives are missing two weeks of posts. After a twenty minute search, I'm concluding that the otter photo is among the missing pages.]

It's also a shame that most of my sightings of red fox have also been roadkills, at least two again here on the highway that passes by my house. (I was once scolded by one very much alive in Delaware after returning after dark to the state park for which I then worked. Apparently I was not supposed to be there; "park's closed, no humans allowed" was the message I got from that encounter.)

Okay, happy photo needed. So I give you... SLUG POO!!!