Kayaking with a Friend

Last week while kayaking, I had one of my favorite friends join me … a Northern River Otter (Lutra canadensis). When I first noticed him, I had the kayak facing away from him while I photographed beavers around their lodge. While swimming past me, he made quite a splashing noise as he swam via a loping motion. When I heard this, I turned around and saw him quickly swimming past me:

River Otter swimming in a Missouri waterway

 

Up until this time, he hadn’t noticed me. But the process of turning the kayak around made enough noise that he abruptly stopped and looked my direction:

River Otter sees me in my kayak

 

Otters are so curious that they always like to check out anything unusual. In this case, he kept his distance from me but stopped long enough to see who I was and what I was doing. Since he was on the far side of the water from me, I decided to paddle and try to get in front of him for a “head-on” shot. I quickly paddled and managed to get ahead of him. At that point, I just turned the kayak around and waited for him to swim to me. As he surfaced from the water, he noticed me and abruptly stopped and raised his head out of the water for a good look at me:

A curious River Otter

 

If you read my blog often, you know that I love being around and photographing the river otters. They are one of my favorite subjects to find when I kayak! And you might remember my awesome experience with an otter about 3-4 years ago (“An Otterly Fabulous Outing”).

 

 

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Posted in 2013, Blog, Mammals, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak
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  • Scott

    I love the curiosity of the otters. As a photographer, If I was that otter, I would be trying to see how you are protecting your gear from the elements when out in the kayak ;) Do you use a Pelican case, Jim? I usually stick to my point and shoot with the canoe. I think I may go with the slingbag for the DSLR in the kayak.

  • Scott, I usually use no protection, other than keeping it under the canopy when not in use. But my kayak is a flat-bottom (extremely stabile) one and I kayak in still waters. If in a sea kayak, however, I use a “dry bag” to keep the camera/lens in, when not in use. In either situation, I always use the camera strap (around my neck) to prevent dropping the camera into water. :o)