An adult European otter was captured on CCTV camera diving into the sea from a pontoon at the Royal Yacht Club, making it the first recorded sighting of the mammal in Gibraltar.
The otter was caught on CCTV and was spotted by officials at the club who were reviewing night-time footage after a vessel sank while berthed there.
One local who worked in the area said otters had been sighted around Coaling Island for over a decade, but had never been caught on film.
Likewise in March 2016, the Chronicle reported that otter droppings – known as spraints – had been found on the groynes in Sandy Bay.
— Hamish Risso (@HamishRisso) January 5, 2019
The mammals are sometimes seen around estuaries in the Campo de Gibraltar but are rarely spotted here, making this recording an important landmark for conservationists.
Keith Bensusan, from the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society, called the sighting “exciting news”.
He noted that otters “move about between Algeciras and Tarifa”, where they “commute on a stream in the sea”.
“It is not impossible that otters would get to Gibraltar,” he said, and while this one could potentially be looking for a new habitat, the likelihood is “it is probably transient”.
The gender or age of the otter is not known, but due to its large size it is definitely an adult, he said.
Dr Eric Shaw also confirmed that sighting of otters have occurred in the past but that they were rare.
He said that in winter, otters travel for up to around five kilometres.
Dr John Cortes, the Minister for the Envirnment, said the footage was “fascinating” and was the “first record for Gibraltar that I’m aware of”.
“They are native to the surrounding area where they are increasing in numbers,” he said on Twitter.
“In some places (eg the Scottish islands) European otters live on the shore and are marine.”
“They are sometimes seen on the shore along the Strait [of Gibraltar] west of the Bay.”