Whenever I visit Gardens by the Bay or any other otter-hotspot, I always seem to miss the furry creatures. After seeing them for the first time at Coney Island, I could not wait to see them again.
Little did I know that the first day of Chinese New Year would bring much luck. I went to Gardens by the Bay last Saturday with Tanvi (check out her amazing blog) and we started talking about how awesome it would be to see otters. Seconds later, we saw a crowd of photographers in front of us photographing a family of smooth-coated otters in a pond!
The otters were feasting on fish, fighting and frolicking around in the water. Their cute squeaky noises filled my ears with joy as I observed them through binoculars as they were a bit in the distant. I got so carried away by observing them I forgot to take pictures!
They soon scrambled away into the bushes, and I thought that would be the end of the encounter. But a few minutes later, as we walked through a different trail- we saw the otters further upstream!
Smooth-coated otters have been sighted across Singapore- in places such as Sungei Buloh wetland reserve, Pasir Ris, Pulau Ubin, Changi and Bishan. The otter family spotted frequently at Gardens by the Bay has been named the Bishan 10– because they come from Bishan Ang Mo Kio Park and are a family of 10!
The otters then scrambled out of the water onto this ledge of grass beside the pond. They spent minutes rolling around in the grass and dirt, playing around and drying themselves.
It was so heartening to see this otter (presumably the mother) helping its baby up onto the grass! From then on, I couldn’t take my eyes off the otter pups, they were so adorable!!
One of the pups even came out into the road we were standing on to roll around and dry itself.
The adult otters kept a keen eye on the pups and their surroundings.
An adult otter rolling around in the grass as the pup watches and learns:
Having seen this otter family all across Facebook and the internet, it was obvious that the Bishan 10 were celebrities. They even appeared on a David Attenborough documentary about Singapore called Wild City!
It only proved to me further how popular the otters were when we saw a BBC film crew filming the otters that day. We asked them about their experience and they said they were filming in Singapore for about two weeks for a documentary on otters around the world. They told us they were really amazed by the otters here in Singapore and were heading next to the US to continue filming.
According to Facebook group OtterWatch, some of the BBC filmmakers we met that day have had years of experience filming otters, and termed Singapore as an “Otter Heaven” because no where else in the world can you find smooth-coated otters frolicking within the city.
What a lucky experience and encounter! I felt so grateful to have seen the famous otter family, observed their behavior and witness the BBC crew filming them. I’ll leave you with a short video I took of the otters. Enjoy 🙂