Q: Yesterday morning (17 January 2009) at approx 8:15am I was walking my dog along side the River Tawe and I spotted an otter in the river. I always look at the river at that spot for the kingfishers. At first I saw something out of the corner of my eye as it jumped. We get a lot of fish migrating up stream and I thought it was that but then it appeared, head out of the water and it drifted down stream at the same pace as I was walking just watching me. Recently I have been finding some large fish (either salmon or sea trout?) on certain parts of the river with their heads missing but the rest of the fish there. Unfortunately I did not have a camera. Are otters making a return to this part of the country or have other people spotted them? Kind Regards, Paul Beckett
A: Hello Paul and thanks for your question.
I am really pleased to be able to say the answer is yes! Otters have indeed returned to the river Tawe and yes, many people have spotted them in recent years!
There have been four national otter surveys in Wales since 1977. Rob Parry, the Wetland and Wildlife Advisory Officer for the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales has informed me that in the 1970s and 1980s there was no evidence of otters on the River Tawe. However, in the last two surveys (1991 and 2002), the number of sites showing positive for otters has steadily increased. The greatest increase in positive signs of otter for the area actually came from the upper reaches of the Tawe and its tributaries, including the Twrch and Clydach. Sightings have also been recorded on the canal around Pontardawe.
In fact, otter numbers have increased dramatically throughout Wales in the last 20 years and the fact that they have returned to many rivers is seen as something of a success story in demonstrating the improved quality of our rivers and surrounding habitats for wildlife.
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