Dozing polar bear, Indianapolis Zoo

Friday, September 14, 2007

All otters, all the time -- Updated, 2009

Update, 2009: If you're looking for information about Raising Sancho or Carolina, there's been a lot of digital ink spilled on this blog about that very subject! Click here for a collection of posts, including one I wrote on 2/1/09 about what Carolina's doing now.

Update: Hello, Sancho fans from the October airing! I viewed Raising Sancho for the first time in September, and I wrote a series of posts that was generated in part by the scads of folks who found their way here looking for updates on Sancho. Carolina Vargas found us as well, and left a number of comments on the posts! For some reason, Google directs most readers to this post, but to read the whole group of posts, go here and begin at the bottom, moving up as you go. Please feel free to leave comments of your own on any of the posts. I don't know if Carolina will be checking back in or not. This post does contain names of organizations that do giant otter research for those of you who are interested.

As all of you know, I was deeply moved by Raising Sancho, and I've become really interested in giant otters (and mustelids in general as I learn more about them) since this show aired. And if you're reading this, it's a safe bet that you feel the same way.

Meanwhile, I've been doing more reading and looking around. Giant otters are endangered, and if present trends continue, their already-low numbers may halve in the next twenty years. For many years, they were extensively hunted for their pelts. Now, they face threats from mercury poisoning, habitat loss, illegal hunting, persecution from fishermen who perceive them as competition, and diseases passed on by domestic animals, such as parvovirus and distemper.

Go here and here for organizations working on giant otter conservation. Note that the latter organization has a page entitled Ways to Help. The Frankfurt Zoological Society also does giant otter conservation work in South America. Note also the page entitled "Support."

Here is a brief and charming video of a small group of giant otters.

I'll probably update this post with further links as I find them, for those who are as otter-obsessed as I am right now.

Further links: I'll be heading out to do some photography here shortly, but I wanted to provide you with a few interesting items. Regular reader Kristy viewed Raising Sancho yesterday and writes about it on her blog. Kristy points out that, too often, we expect neat endings with no ambiguity, and that isn't always how life goes.

Also, check this out. I could watch these guys forever. I believe what the first otter is doing is called periscoping. (Perhaps if Carolina is still checking in, she could tell me if that's correct or not.) I'll be back later on this afternoon. Feel free to continue the discussion in any of the three posts -- this has been great.


Carolina Vargas said...

Hi there!!
It´s Carolina Vargas writing... I´m sorry about the delay. I´ve just checked my email box and finded your message! Thank you for that. I´ll now read it again carefully in order to answer all your questions!! Talk to you soon and thank you again for your message and interest about the giants!
Kind regards, Carolina.

Trailhead said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! We will all look forward to hearing from you!

Kristy said...

Saw Sancho today on Animal Planet! Now I can feel like part of the discussion--thanks!

Carolina said...

Yes, the giant otter in the film is periscoping! Giant otters usually do that in order to investigate something new, its considered a alert posture!Sometimes it´s followed by a "snort" (a alarm vocalization).
The film follows with a very special time in giant otters' rotine: the resting time (you can see one adult allogrooming a cub while he eat). Very nice shot!

Trailhead said...

Yeah, the person who made that video did a good job. I think they have several other videos on youtube from Manu National Park in Peru. I love the music they added to it too.

I'm going to research the term "allogrooming" now!

They're so funny when they're eating fish, too. They really chow.

Anonymous said...

Sancho is him alive?

Trailhead said...

Welcome readers from France! Raising Sancho must have been on television there today.

Anon, read Carolina's comments here. Scroll about halfway down into the comments section. Short answer: Sancho may be alive. Others think they have seen him, although Carolina has not seen him.

maira said...

Please, I really need to talk to Carolina! Is it possible to get her e-mail? Mine is:
Thank you very much!

Trailhead said...

Hi maira. If I recall correctly, her email address is in the comments to this thread.

emmyjaywako said...

I have truly been inspired by Carolina and Sancho and have watched the documentary countless times now, whilst I was studying for my Zoology Conservation foundation degree, and studying for my conservation biology degree it has provided me with motivation and hope. I have now completed my studies and I graduate next month (September 17th 2012) :-) . I am now desperately trying to find an opportunity to become a research volunteer, to study giant otters in the wild and help to conserve them and I am hoping by writing this message someone might see it and put me in touch with someone that can help me follow my dream. My email address is and I hope to become part of a research team and contribute to help save this truly amazing, beautiful and intriguing species and do whatever we can to safe guard its future. I would love to hear from anyone who may have some contacts or email addresses of the people I need to speak to. Perhaps even Carolina herself might be able to point me in the right direction. Thankyou for reading this and fingers crossed someone might get back to me soon 