This is a Giant River Otter – an apex predator of the rivers and lagoons in the Brazilian Pantanal. The giant part of its name is no understatement – this creature is longer than myself. They can grow up to an astounding 1.8m in length. I have had the pleasure to observe Giant River Otters before in Manu National Park in Peru, but this time I managed to get much closer and more intimate shots. It’s no easy feat photographing these super energetic guys, they are constantly on the move, lightning fast and swim underwater a lot so you never know where they are going to pop out from. And yeah then there is the little detail of photographing them from a moving boat, trying to keep up with them.
Giant River Otters are endemic to South America and sadly are an endangered species. Their range has been significally reduced, and the remaining populations are quite fragmented. They are very rare to see in the wild, but fortunately the Pantanal is one of their last remaining strongholds and they are easily sighted there if you know where to look for them. This is indeed special considering that there are only a few thousand in the wild throughout the continent. Tourism to the Pantanal has no doubt played a significant role in rehabilitating their numbers there.
The otters mostly completely ignored our boat while we were observing them, but every now and then one would look at us curiously for a second – keeping tabs on our activities. Unfortunately the split second moment combined with a moving and rocking boat threw off my composition a bit for this photo – but I still like it as it captures their curious nature.
Thanks to Brazil Nature Tours for an incredible Pantanal Trip!
Techs: Canon 7D Mark II | Canon EF 200-400 f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X @ 560mm | f5.6 | 1/1000s | ISO 1000