Oiled Otter Recovering Well

The little female otter continues to work her way towards release. Right now her biggest obstacle is returning her coat to normal so that it is waterproof. This takes time and a lot of work on her part.

The coat serves an important function. It traps air which acts as insulation and allows her live in cold water pretty much full-time. When the coat isn’t waterproof she loses body heat which increases the amount of energy she has to expend to maintain her core temperature. To better illustrate this I’ve included a couple of pictures (thanks to Sharon Toy-Choutka).

The first photograph (a thermogram) below was taken with an infrared camera. The red and white areas are where she is losing a large amount of body heat because her coat is not yet waterproof. The image beneath it is a normal photograph you can use as an aid to help make sense of the more psychedelic thermogram. Notice the area of wet plastered hair that corresponds to the white area in the thermogram.

Red and white colors show areas of heat loss. (Sharon Toy-Choutka)

Red and white colors show areas of heat loss. (Sharon Toy-Choutka)

Notice how the wet hair corresponds to the red/white area in the thermogram. (Sharon Toy-Choutka)

Notice how the wet hair corresponds to the red/white area in the thermogram. (Sharon Toy-Choutka)

The video below shows the otter being moved from a smaller pool with a haul out platform, to a larger pool where she can get more exercise. Notice how she’s still grooming – even when she’s in the net. Once she’s in the water her focus changes, and you can really see how well she’s recovering.

For more information on the progress of this otter, please visit her Facebook page.

Greg Massey, OWCN, Asst. Director

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