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The Press & Journal

Friday 25 April 2008

OPERATOR FINDS BABY ANIMAL ASLEEP IN ENGINE COMPARTMENT

Otter boards cruiser for a snooze

Baby otter on board MV Kerry

HIGH AND DRY: The baby otter has been taken to more comfortable shelter at an Ullapool rescue centre

A Wester Ross whale cruise operator was amazed to discover an unusual passenger on board one of his boats in Gairloch harbour – a baby otter sheltering in the engine compartment.

The tiny creature boarded the MV Kerry, a 31ft offshore passenger cruiser moored at the harbour’s main pontoon, on Wednesday while owner Nick Davies, of Hebridean Whale Cruises, was out on another boat.

Mr Davies said he had been carrying out routine maintenance on the engine during the morning.

He then left to take visitors out on a wildlife cruise on the company’s other boat, the rigid-hulled inflatable boat Orca 1, and when he returned he found the young otter curled up on top of the Kerry’s engine.

“It had been raining and the engine cover was lifted above the engine to keep the rain off. The otter obviously thought it had found the perfect warm, dry place to sleep,” he said.

Mr Davies, a wildlife expert whose company operates daily whale and wildlife cruises from Gairloch, said the otter did not seem bothered by his presence.

“I knew something must be wrong because this was very unusual behaviour for these normally elusive creatures.

“We see a lot of otters around Loch Gairloch and, at the moment, there are many young ones.

“Somehow this little creature had been separated from its parents. It’s impossible to know why it was on its own. It looked healthy, but clearly it needed to be looked after,” he said.

Mr Davies called in colleagues to help catch the young otter and it was taken to the Highland Wildlife Hospital Trust rescue centre at Ullapool.

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