National Geographic : 1980 Jul
NILULt UUPLAIA(ACUV " AND LEI I); BAI J LIIIL.HALtL (BELUW) Otterly indifferent to observers, Mr. Hummer reclines lazily on the bottom of Kapoeri Creek (below) after abandoning his campsites. Otters strip the vegetation from such sites, which average thirty-five feet long and twenty feet wide, to mark their terri torial boundaries.This vacant site (left), overgrown during the rainy season, was later reclaimed and denuded (farleft) by otters returningto the river. Campsites are also marked with feces, urine, and a musky scent. Otters patrol and re-mark sites so vigorously that at Nanni Lake several generationsof otters have worn away a 45-foot "bite" in the bank at the tip of a small island (above). A noisy species, otters vocalize con stantly. Pairshum, coo, or chortle to their cubs as they swim. Adults and cubs alike screaminfrustrationwhen anotherfamily membercatches thefish they were chasing. And Mr. Hummer hummed even in his sleep. In all, the authordistinguishednine basic otter sounds, from a startled "Hah!" to the squeaks of newborn cubs. New wildlife preserves in Suriname may give additionalprotection to these attractive animals, whose numbers are dwindling elsewhere.