Sunday, 8 August 2010


I'm writing this post because the plight of Otters is something that is recently starting to weigh heavily on my mind. They are my favourite animal so I think that people should understand how they are suffering. Im going to write it as a 3-parter as it is an extensive subject.

Who doesn't love Otters? They are so important to us and iconic of our wildlife so..why are they starting to become endangered? Otters are very important to the ecosystem. They tend to catch sick, slow or injured fish and help to keep over-population of fish down. Not only that but they are very iconic and EXTREMELY cute so why would we want to hurt them? They face many problems in the wild such as hunting, lack of food, destruction of habitats and oil spills.

There are 13 species of Otters;

Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra)
Cape Clawless otter (Aonyx capensis)
Asian small clawed otter (Aonyx cinerea)
Sea otter (Enhydra lutris)
Marine otter (Lontra felina)
Neotropical otter (Lontra longicaudis)
Spotted necked otter (Lutra maculicollis)
Giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis)
Southern river otter(Lontra provocax)
American river otter (Lontra canadensis)
Smooth coated otter (Lutragale perspicillata)
Hairy nosed otter (Lutra sumatrana)
Congo otter (Aonyx congicus)

and all are now finding thier names creeping onto the threatened and endangered lists - 85% of all otters in serious danger. There are many contributing factors and Im going to concentrate on what I think are the most important.

It is important to remember that Otters do not reproduce very often. They tend to partner for life, living in family units with a female and male partnership in charge, however the breeding female is the ultimate boss. Otters will tend to produce one or two litters a year, of up to about 6 pups at most. Their life span in usually between 10 and 15 years, although there are some older otters on record. This means their population is at a steady growth rate when it has no interference, however it also means that when threatened, population numbers will severely drop.

The first main reason why otters are suffering is hunting. Hunting is generally frowned upon for most animals, however Otters are still regularly hunted all over the world. The reason for this is their fur. Otters have very special fur - it is made up of 2 layers a short under layer for insulation and a longer layer on top which is dense and waterproof. This durable fur is highly sought after to make coats, scarfs, hats and other fur pieces. It is incredible warm and long-lasting.
This hunting has been going on for hundreds of years, and when it first came about, there were many reports on the subject which told of how easy otter hunting was as they were friendly and had no fear of humans. Otters have a naturally curious and playful nature, and many reports recorded tales of otters coming onto shore to actually meet their killers to investigate who they were. The killing was easy as the otters didn’t understand the danger they were walking into, and some of the reports are extremely chilling. One famous report by a traveller in Russia described the gruesome meeting of hunters and Sea Otters as such; "They covered the shore in droves; they would come up to our fires and would not be driven away. They rubbed their noses against the legs of sailors, who immediately bludgeoned them to death". One hunter said "When it receives a vigorous blow upon the head, it falls upon the ground, covers its eyes with its paws, and keeps them so, no matter how many times it is struck."

In the years that have passed, Otters have grown to be more fearful of humans, and thankfully their very sharp teeth and strong jaws, which they use to chomp through bone and shells, they can be a fearsome creature. There are several reports of Otters (Sea) actually killing humans when in packs due to fear and protection, however this is incredibly rare.

Since Otter hunting started in the 1800s, many places have banned hunting and groups have formed to protect them, however it is still continuing, the main problem being that laws aren’t always enforced. Due to our awareness and a drop in the fur trade, hunting has dropped. However, many fashion labels and "gurus" do keep trying to reintroduce fur onto our catwalks and into our shops. Please always be aware of what you are buying and go for faux-fur if you really have to have a piece (fur is expensive and nightmare to care for anyway).

What can you do?

Please, NEVER buy otter fur in any form, as every purchase of it is a reason to go out and kill another otter. If there is no call for the fur, there is no reason for them to be hunted.

You can also help to sponsor otters, donate, keep up to date with information, support any work and sign any petitions in various places in the UK who work for Otters:

Like anything, if you come across otters in the wild please do not disturb them, watch them from a distance. This will help keep both them, and you, safe.

MCS pocket guide

I know I already produced a list of what marine species are okay to eat/not eat, but the MCS have produced many web pages to help people to buy more environmentally smart.
- this page is a purchasing guide which instructs what is best to buy and when.
- this page is a basic search engine where you can look up your marine species of choice and find out all the facts you need to know about it, before trotting off to the supermarket.
- this is a page of FAQ's all fully answered with links.
- this is the pocket guide for simple information, fast.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Climate change to cause a stir..

Scientists have warned that climate change is likely to cause more environmental damage in the form of volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis. It has been feared for a while that the natural disasters we have experienced in recent times have been more violent than we have experienced before, and the Royal Society are putting this down to climate change; claiming that "even the smallest change in our environment" could cause big repercussions. Big changes in rising sea levels, melting ice caps and freak weather will be the culprits that could trigger natural disasters, and as certain recent events show, we are no equipped to handle the aftermath.

They are also warning of "ice-quakes", break up in ice sheets which could trigger big tsunamis. Scientists also claim that if all the ice were to melt, then it could trigger earthquakes due to pressue the ice once had on the earth being released.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Save Chagos Reef - petition

Just had a petition pased on to me that is quite important.

The Chagos Islands are an area under British jurisdiction in the Indian Ocean. It is home to a large coral atoll and amazing ocean life. The reef needs to be protected to ensure its long term survival and the safeguarding of all the life whom live on, or feed off such a beautiful area.

The petition is to try and ensure the area becomes a no take zone so that we can try and preserve this area of such outstanding beauty, however sadly there is a time limit -the petition must be passed onto the government by February 12th.

Please sign the following petition and browse the website for more information.

Thank you :)

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Doing your bit for our oceans...

Apologies for not updating in a while - had a few problems with the account. Thankfully is now back up in full running order.

With many sea species in threat of extinction, I just wanted to post a little bit about what to do and what not to do - just some basics.

A lecturer once said to me that instead of trying to fight humans against nature, we must work along side each other. So when facing the problems which have become increasingly important in recent years, it is not enough to simply tell people to stop making mistakes, and instead we must take human actions into account when planning for our future.

The consumption of fish has been important for thousands of years. They have always been a good source of protein and have recently become even more important by eing labelled as a 'brain food', due to being a good source of Omega 3, as well as delicacies such as Blue Fin Tuna used in Sushi. But everyone by now knows that fishing is causing huge problems to our oceans and consuming the 3 pieces of recommended fish a week could leave stocks so depleated that many species could become extinct. Overfishing and fishing styles are mostly to blame for this terrible loss.

Scientists latest prediction is that fish stocks for many species could be exhausted by 2048 unless sustainable fishing comes into play. Although slowly changes are being made, the UK Marine Bill hopes to accomplish no fishing zones in order to give safe havens where Fish stocks can replenish themselves. Big supermarkets such as Marks and Spencer's and Waitrose have also promised to stop selling endangered species and instead sell more sustainable species like Yellowfin Tuna. But what will this really mean? Sadly, it is likely to mean that although there will be areas for fish to be safe, it will be our fishermen who suffer the greatest loss and although fishing techniques are largely to blame, we have to consider these people's livelihoods and futures. Other countries will not be participating and therefore some of the worst offending countries will still be continuing their detrimental practices.

So what can the evryday consumer do? Well, when choosing fish there are certain species you should try and avoid. You should also try to buy sustainable fish that you know comes from a good, fair source that is good for both the oceans and the fishermen - supporting local fishermen is even better. You can buy farmed fish, Salmon, Tuna etc. which may be more sustainable, however farmed fish does raise some other important issues (I'll raise that in another post though!)

The Marine Conservation Society has published lists of fish and seafood it is okay to eat and those to avoid. Sadly the list of species to avoid is longer!

Fish to enjoy -

Fish to avoid -

If you want to delve a little deeper, there are some wonderful texts currently available on the subject:

- Grescoe, Taras, 2008. 'Bottomfeeder - how the fish on our plates in killing our planet' A wonderful tale of Gresco's year-long trip around the world sampling many marine species and uncovering the destruction of our oceans.

- Roberts, Callum, 2007. 'The unatural history of the sea - the past and future of humanity and fishing' A look at the relationship between humans and the ocean throughout history, with more chilling conclusions about the future.

- Girling, Richard, 2007. 'Sea Change - Britain's coastal catastrophe' Focusing on Britain's behaviour with regard to the ocean. A fascinating and passionate account of our treatment of the coast.

- Bely, S and Bely, P, 2007. 'Do dolphins ever sleep?' This is a really nice book which answers basics and random questions on our seas, with topics such as animals, sailing, weather and basic sciecne. A fantastic text for people looking for basic information on our oceans.