Having Lunch with a Sea Otter. Yummy Crustaceans

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Sea Otter eating

During our week in Santa Cruz last month, I was privileged to spend about an hour having lunch with Ms. Sea Otter and her nervous pup. They were modeling for me during an afternoon shoot. Ms. Otter was busy diving under the wharf to get her lunch, a mixture of yummy crustaceans she peeled off the wharf pilings while Junior waited, not always patiently, on the surface.

Sea Otter Pup

Momma Otter quickly figured out that she was in no danger from the handful of observers on the wharf, and had no problem leaving Junior to grab her meals. She did swim out some distance when a sailboat drifted by, then came back and resumed her feast. I thought it rather selfish of her to not share with the pup, but then thought Junior may not have been weaned yet. He didn’t seem bothered in the least that mom was not sharing her piling pie.

Photo tip: Stick around awhile

The opportunity to get shots of otters in the wild with their babies does not come around very often. Like never. Wildlife has a way of disappearing when people show up and point things at them. But Momma Otter with her baby was more than willing to stick around for a good long time and let me get my fill of images, so I wasn’t about to leave. Must be some good crustaceans on the Santa Cruz wharf.

I found it interesting that most of the people on the wharf that day were more interested in the sea lions sleeping under the wharf than Momma Otter and her pup. A few came by to see what we were looking at. Some even took a few pictures with whatever camera they had. None stayed very long. Interesting that they spent more time watching sleeping sea lions than watching a sea otter and pup putting on a show.

Perhaps that is one of the differences between someone who take pictures of stuff and a photographer. Photographers observe and wait, watching for the right moment to fire the shutter. A photographer doesn’t leave a scene until there is nothing left to shoot.

I was able to stay on this scene until Momma Otter was ready to leave. That happened when someone in a kayak drifted by. Had I quit earlier I would have missed this parting shot which makes for a great closing to the story.

Enter kayak, exit otter

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I hope you enjoyed this post and have your own otter stories? Share them in the comments.