River otters were once a rare sight in Massachusetts, but thanks to better wetland conservation, pollution reduction, and habitat creation thanks to those industrious beavers, their numbers are on the rise. And thank goodness for that! With their playful, athletic nature, otters can be a lot of fun to watch as they body-surf down icy hills and generally use nature as their personal playground.
These semi-aquatic carnivores love marshes, lakes, rivers, swamps, and estuaries that provide an ample supply of fish—the foundation of their diet. Otters have been spotted at numerous Mass Audubon properties, including Broadmoor, Canoe Meadows, Barnstable Great Marsh, Stony Brook, Tidmarsh, and more, and although they are active day and night, your best chance to spot them is around dawn or dusk.
Here are five photos of river otters from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The 2018 contest opens in early summer, so keep your eyes peeled for updates!