Skip to comments.Crew boats fend off otter attack
Posted on 04/09/2004 3:43:01 PM PDT by mylife
Friday, April 9, 2004 Crew boats fend off otter attack By Marta Darby
Otters are native to New Hampshire river areas, but are found in aquatic habitats around the country. In a scene perhaps more typical of a Fox "When Animals Attack" special than Dartmouth crew practice, a river otter attacked crew coaches April 2 during the varsity heavyweight afternoon practice. No one was injured, but the incident, which occurred seven miles upstream from the crew boathouse, rattled the nerves of all involved.
The otter, running along the shoreline ice before the attack, jumped into the river to play in the wake of the coach's launch, according to varsity coach Scott Armstrong, who was directing two eight-man boats at the time of the encounter. Volunteer coach Todd Pearson and coxswain Kate Johnson '06 accompanied Armstrong in the launch.
Armstrong turned off the motor to avoid injuring the otter with the propeller. With the engine off, the otter immediately tried to board the boat in the stern. Armstrong then grabbed a wooden paddle and attempted to fend off the animal, pushing the otter back into the water every time its head appeared over the edge of the boat. The otter, however, outmaneuvered Armstrong and climbed into the launch..
"Scott, Todd and I immediately jumped up," said Johnson, who was sitting in the bow of the launch. "The otter was on the far side of one of the benches and was definitely trying to attack Scott.".
The otter promptly began to lunge and hiss viciously at the coaches, who frantically used paddles and a megaphone to try to force the animal out of the boat. After a short battle, the two parties reached a standoff the hissing and glaring otter in the stern of the boat, the coaches armed and ready for action in the middle..
Suddenly, the otter attacked again. As the otter lunged over the bench in the stern, Armstrong swiftly used his paddle to flip the animal into the river..
The otter's aggression, however, did not end there. Shortly after the otter had returned to shore, the animal jumped back into the river, swimming directly toward the second varsity boat that was in the process of turning around. The boats immediately fled..
"I don't think I've ever rowed harder in my entire life as I did trying to escape the otter -- that devilish creature had already attacked Scott and now it was coming back for more," said Noah Riner '06, who was in the second varsity eight at the time of the incident..
Armstrong does not foresee the otter posing a major threat in the future..
"If he jumped into a shell that was stopped in the water and tried to bite one of the guys, it wouldn't be a funny story anymore. But I assume that if we just keep an eye out for him, we can easily avoid that," Armstrong said..
The attack, which occurred about seven miles upstream from the Friends of Dartmouth Rowing Boathouse on the Connecticut River, was not the otter's first assault. The same otter recently attacked local resident Lois Stanhope's four-year-old grandson. The boy's rubber boots, however, protected him from harm..
Stanhope suggested that the otter might be protecting pups, which would explain the animal's violent behavior..
River users are advised to exercise caution and to avoid contact with the otter..
Unfortunately, that doesn't answer our question. "Largest" here seems to be the weight, not the length; or at least we do not know which. So, it's still quite possible that some can reach 60 inches, even if it weighs less than the 33-pound record.
Please do. I don't remember my source, but that's what it said, 60 inches. The only reason I wasn't startled by that was that I'd just seen one, and it looked like the size of a log.
Exactly what I said to companions when I spotted something -- jokingly, because this was in northern Wisconsin, which doesn't have many alligators :-) It was in shadow at first so we could not be sure what it was. Then it swam away, and we all knew immediately we were watching a river otter.
Also from memory, not from personal experience: Their rear paws are webbed (for swimming), front paws are not (for catching and handling food).
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