OK…. so, I’m sitting here trying to work up enthusiasm about financial paperwork when I hear a disturbance in the water through the hull. Sounds like a small electric trolling motor with a bad prop setting up cavitation. Then I hear a bump against the submerged hull away from the dock followed by another bump below, and the sound of something surfacing on the dock side of the boat. Knowing the gap between the boat and the dock is only a few inches in some places I figure I’d better go out and check to see if someone diving in the marina has gotten hurt and surfaced near my boat–which seems the most likely scenario.
So I jump up and go out. I see no one in the water.
But do see bubbles. Very small bubbles and lots of them, forming a stream.
Something is moving under the water, but I can’t see it. Which means that it’s not a diver–even in our murky water, a diver close enough to the surface to send up strong streams of bubbles would be a big, dark shape in the water.
I get back up on deck to try and follow the stream of bubbles visually, but I’m too late. They’ve disappeared and I can see two flat spots with spreading ripples that indicate something has surfaced and dived again nearby.
I stand on deck and look around at the open water between my boat and the next dock and then I see it. It’s a nose. And a head. At first I think it might be a seal, but then it swims to another boat, bumping lightly against its hull before diving and showing me a long, furred body and a long, thick, pointed tail.
It’s an otter–a river otter. Looks like the local otters are assaying another camping trip to the marina this Spring. About every two to three years, they show up and raise a pup or two under the dock. I’m not sure they’ll stay this time, since they’ll have to contend with the beaver that moved in this fall, but since the beaver’s a vegetarian and the otters are carnivores, they may get along OK. The racoons living under the next dock may be a bit of a problem, though….
I know it’s silly, but I always feel like the otters bring good luck and I am more inclined to be happy and take risks when the otters are in residence. I’m going to miss those guys when we move to a new marina (as we’re thinking of doing later this year.) But I’ll have their tiny relatives to keep me company, at least–ferrets! I wonder if the sea otters will show up at the new place….