Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

6 articles on this Page



THE OTTER AND THE SALMON. ii view of the fact that the scarcity of salmon in our rivers has quite recently been the subject of a Royal Commission, it would not be amiss to recall the part which the otter is said to play in the life history of that fine and familiar fish. Otter-hunting is carried on annually in the rivers Tivy and Dovey but it is very questionable whether the persecution of the otter is as profitable as it may be pleasurable. Recent reports of hunts which have appeared in our columns show that the hunts are not free from wanton cruelty. Our object at present, however, is not to enter a protest against this kind of abuse, but to ask whether the wholesale destruction of the otter is a "paying game in the long run. We are I told by naturalists that the otter has a special use in the preservation of the salmon. It is well-known that these fish must leave the sea for the purpose of depositing their spawn, and that they must return to the salt water to recruit their strength after that exhausting process. If these migrations were neglected or unduly interfered with, in process of time salmon would cease to exist. We are further told by naturalists that many salmon are so constituted as to be disinclined to fall in with these migrations, which are necessary for the constitution of I' their race. Some would prefer to remain in the sea, and deposit their spawn there. Nature, however, comes to the rescue, and forces the fish into fresh water. A louse, which infests the salmon when in the sea, causes him. such irritation that he seeks the fresh water to avoid his tormentors. After spawning, the fish become enfeebl'ed and languid they seek the quiet and repose of deep, still pools, where they often stay, too weak to wish to return to the sea, to become diseased, and die. Herej Nature again interferes and provides a means of driving them off from this quiet, indolent life; and the otter is said to be the agent. If a salmon pool be visited by otters, and the lazy salmon hustled, then they must stir themselves, and make an effort to get to the sea sooner than they otherwise would have- done and many a fish that would have- stayed too long in the rivers, by means of the otter goes down to the sea, to return again increased enormously in size and condition. It is a mistake to believe that otters feed on salmon only, or chiefly. Tlioi will feed on almost anything; and their dietary table is said to include frogs and .birds, but their choicest morsel, it is believed, is the eel—for this they will up the finest and most fresh run salmon. .Those who are interested in both the-otter and the salmon may be able to throw further light on this interesting and not unimportant i subject.