The Otters of Trowel Shop Pond A Photo essay

Two of the three otters enjoying a light snowfall

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” ~ John Muir

Beginning on February 2, 2018, I had the privilege of watching a family group of 3 otters fishing, swimming, and playing on the ice at a small mill pond in Sharon, Massachusetts. Trowel Shop Pond is right off of route 27 on North Main Street. As of February 10, 2018, the ice broke up and the otters have appeared to move on.

I watched the otters catch many fish, averaging about one fish every 5 minutes while I was on the shore of the pond. Most of the fish were sunfish, primarily bluegills and pumpkinseeds. I also saw the otters catch crappie, perch, and largemouth bass.

Two otters, one enjoying a fish.

The pond was only partially covered with ice because water flowed consistently over a spillway at Trowel Shop Pond. I think this provided the otters with an ideal habitat because they had open water right next two thick ice, which allowed them haul out onto the ice when they were feeding on fish.

Otters are secretive, but there are characteristic patterns when they are using a pond that has frozen over.

Otter poking out of an ice hole.

While I watched the otters over 7 days, it was clear that they were maintaining a series of holes in the ice, even on days below zero. At the ice holes, there was a characteristic that indicated otters were present. If you look at the photo below and the one on the left, you will notice that the ice refreezes fresh and clear every time an otter comes out on the ice to eat a fish. Even when otters are not visible, you can see these characteristic patterns of frozen ice.

Notice the characteristic frozen ice around the hole in the ice.
All three otters playing in the snow

Otters in the snow

Otter hauled out on the ice in the snow
Created By
Sean Kent

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