If you’re very lucky, you might see an otter next time you visit Culzean. We are very fortunate that these aquatic mammals call this area their home and we sometimes see them along the shoreline, frolicking in the surf.
We have been trying to see during the summer if there are other locations across the park that otters like to visit. There’s a method that we can use that means that no one needs to get up at dawn or dusk or stand around waiting for many hours. This method is by building an otter friendly raft.
Our rafts are made from Styrofoam in order to keep them afloat and to stop them from gaining excess water. If they are made from plywood, they can retain water and become too heavy. A hole is cut in the middle of the raft and a tray in placed inside holding oasis and clay. A tunnel is placed over the tray and the raft is launched into a body of water.
The tunnel is said to attract otters as they like crawling through tunnels and other dark places. As they walk through the raft, the clay on the tray collects any footprints they may leave behind, and thus, a friendly and non-intrusive method of collecting data on these animals.
Here at Culzean we have 4 of these rafts scattered across the park in various locations to see where otters travel. We have hidden them fairly well, but we do ask if you happen to find one, please do not touch or disturb it.
So far, we have been pretty successful with our rafts, and have managed to collect some footprints on some of our rafts. Otters have large footprints, with 5 toes. The webbing between their toes can be seen on their footprints, along with the grove of their tail. We have also collected footprints of other animals….can you guess what these might be….?
Blog post written by Joanne King, Seasonal Ranger at Culzean.