Fish, sunken garbage, Ogopogo and – river otters.
A photo of some cute otters playing on a wharf in West Kelowna got a lot of attention on the Kelowna Cap News Facebook page as many residents seemed shocked these little mammals live in Okanagan Lake.
“I have lived here all my life and never once have I heard of otters in our lake!” wrote Delaney Cannell.
“Shocked!! Didn’t know there were otters here,” added Susan Kramar.
“In Okanagan lake???” questioned Tricia Christianson.
Despite the disbelief online, a local conservation officer says they do indeed call the lake home.
“We do have river otters in the Okanagan,” said Conservation Officer Terry Myroniuk. “And despite their name, they do hang out in lakes also. Super cute critters.”
Mignon Fritschi was the one that captured the photo of the romp on Feb. 12, 2017. The family was playing on a snow-covered wharf in front of her home on Angus Drive, above Gellatly Road in West Kelowna.
Fritschi said she has lived at that home for 19 years and has never seen river otters before this year.
“Four or five days before I took that picture, there were two on the wharf, they were there for a bit feeding on fish. Then I was in my kitchen a few days later, looking out over the wharf and I saw them sitting out there so I had to get a picture,” said Fritschi.
“I sent the picture to a few friends and learned they are river otters and found out they come in the lake sometimes.”
According to Fritschi, some of her neighbours have seen them in the past, but to her it was a surprise.
“It was the very first time I’ve ever seen them,” said Fritschi. “They were hopping in an out, moving around there. Apparently they like to be on the snow.”
Unfortunately, the otters have not been back since she took the photo and Fritschi does not expect to see them again anytime soon.
“It was so nice to see them, to know those animals are in the water, I think it bodes well for the lake,” added Fritschi.