[Tweeters] Party Poopers

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sun Nov 9 11:40:17 PST 2014

Down at the Marine Science Center pier, here in Port Townsend, the other day, I got to watch a pooper party goin' on.
It was those darn River Otters once again. As I've posted before, Port Townsend is a great place to see them. My last sighting was the best yet - I've been wildlife lucky in the past week, that's for sure.
Anyway, I spotted the Otters, three of them swimming together just south of the pier - probably the same three amiga's (or amigo's) that I saw romping down the beach here last week. Nice to see them again.
As I hoped they might, they swam right under the pier, allowing me great looks of them underwater zooming about for food. Then they all swam over to the nearby floating dock, and one, two, three, blooped up out of the water, on to the dock. Probably all litter mates- of identical size.
What followed was what could be labeled about the cutest otter love-fest I've ever seen. I know that cute isn't exactly a scientific term (maybe there are some Cuteologists out there now) - but otters are cute! These three, on the dock, immediately started loving on each other. Love? Not scientifically proven, but lots of animals like it - maybe you do too.
At least,these playful mustelids were showing plenty of affinity for each other. The slinky critters were wiggling in a sinuous moving knot of mutual nibbling and caressing, and snuggling,and rolling, up and down the dock. As they dried out, their fabulous fur looking better by the minute, I noticed my inner Cute-o- meter was starting to enter the 'red zone' - warning of cuteness overload.
As this otter party was going on, each of the otters broke away from the threesome to poop on the dock, several times - and the dock was, and is, covered with otter crap. This is just something otters like to do - have a latrine.
Yesterday I went back down there in the morning, and no otters. So I went down on the float to check out the otter droppings. Mildly disgusting (luckily it's not my dock) yet interesting. I posted once about the "Guts of Natural History" - examining fish guts for diet clues - now I've lowered my self even further ,on the dock of life , to poop examination. Like checking out owl pellets, otter poop reveals much dietary evidence.
Apparently, otters have a fast-acting digestive system - about a one-hour flush. It does leave identifiable leftovers. Some shrimp (about an inch + long), lots of broken up crustacean shells (some were crabs of some sort), and in several plops - bird chunks. These were feathered bits of skin - very small fine feathers - the breast feathers of some sort of bird, unidentifiable by me. Interesting. Next trip, I need to take my reading glasses.
This morning here at Alzheimer's Acre, I just walked out the door to get something out of my truck, and just about had to elbow my way past two deer - a pair of real party poopers. You see, my mom throws bread crusts out for the gulls in the morning, and it also attracts some of Port Townsends many deer. Deer poop does make good lawn fertilizer, I guess.
Well the deer were late for that party, and were sort of laying a moocher guilt trip on me. "Hey, don't blame me" I said, pointing out a big Glaucous-winged Gull on the neighboring roof " complain to that bird up there!"
Jeff Gibsonamateur poop detectivePort Townsend Wa

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