Ocean City Today

Maybe a dead otter will raise awareness

Jul 20, 2017



printed 07/21/2017


When a news release came in this week from the Maryland Coastal Bays Program about an otter that drowned in an abandoned crab pot, we elected not to run the accompanying picture.

In addition to the carcass being indistinguishable after being in the water for a number of days and subjected to all matter of marine life, we decided that it would be viewed by some as insensitive and tasteless.

Otters, after all, are those happy-go-lucky creatures that cavort in a Disney-like universe where nature is perfectly packaged for our enjoyment. So how dare we publish a picture so counter to that feel-good vision of our own creation?

For a number of years now, we have printed photos of dead terrapins that suffered the same fate and not a peep of protest was heard, probably because reptiles just aren’t cute and cuddly. Nevertheless, they were just as dead as this single otter.

That’s unfortunate, because hundreds — maybe more — have been killed in recent years because of the failure of some crabbers to attach the legally required exclusion devices on the entrances of their crab pots.

Whether that’s because of laziness, stupidity or just not caring is beside the point. What matters is that these bays experience enough pressure from human involvement as it is without adding to their problems by killing its creatures because of thoughtlessness.

Then again, if one drowned otter can cause more people to do the right thing than have our numerous stories and photos of abandoned crab pots and dead terrapins, it could be we were wrong about the otter photo.

So here it is:


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