On the Hunt for Elusive Island Otters

During winter, when there is significant snowfall, wildlife biologist Luanne Johnson begins the hunt for otter trails.

Only in the snow can she easily track the round-toed trails at Sepiessa Point Reservation or the smooth belly slides along the hills of Cranberry Acres. Otherwise, the elusive otter remains mostly a mystery. This winter has been a good one for observations.

Talkin’ Otters

Talkin’ Otters

Wildlife biologists Luanne Johnson and Elizabeth Baldwin are hoping Island hikers will be on the lookout for otter trails and slides in the woods this winter. The two are studying the Island’s river otter population with a goal of mapping otter habitat and understanding the diet of these aquatic mammals — the top predators in our coastal ponds.

River Otter Research Gets Edey Foundation Grant

Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation has received an $8,000 grant from the Edey Foundation for a coastal otter research project led by biologist Luanne Johnson, to document the diet and habitat of river otters on the Vineyard. The community-based project asks Island residents, conservation groups, teachers and students to help map otter trails and latrines and help analyze otter diets.

Oughta Know Where Otters Go, So Scientists Map Weasel Tracks

After every snowfall you may have noticed a series of odd, tube-shaped slides, wending mostly through Island woodlands but also over roads and even into downtown Oak Bluffs or Edgartown. The creatures that left these mysterious trails are less easy to spot, but recent research carried out by two Vineyard scientists suggests they are abundant. They are coastal river otters.

Winter Walk Goes in Search of Otters

The Vineyard Conservation Society is hosting a winter walk on Sunday, Jan. 8, from 1 to 3 p.m. and they are looking for otters. The walk will be led by wildlife biologists Luanne Johnson and Liz Baldwin along the protected lands around the Wakeman Conservation Center, starting at the Cranberry Acres bogs and continuing to the Hoft Farm. The plan is to explore the trails, fields, and bogs of this area while searching for otter tracks and learning about how they perceive the landscape.