Dynamic Pier

I was walking around Ambleside Pier one afternoon when I heard a squeak coming from the water. I looked over the edge and saw nothing. I went back to walking off the pier when I heard it again. This time I went to the edge ready to take a video. When I looked over, there was nothing there, again, but this time I stayed with the camera rolling. I waited for a few seconds and then in the middle of my frame up popped a river otter swimming towards me.

Dynamic Pier

Where the otters have learned to adapt.

I watched as the otter swam up to the rocks under the pier and heard more squeaks. This was a family outing and as I continued to watch, it happened to be lunch time.

I wanted to get a better view of what they were up to, but I also didn’t want to get too close as to invade their space or have a family of otters chase me along the rocks. So I climbed down to see how many there were and what they were up to under the pier.

At first I could only see two – one eating a fish and one going for quick swims.  Then a third popped its head up.  Then I moved my vantage point and noticed two preening each other behind one of the rocks in front of me.  Then one of those ran up and over a large rock to the other side.  The two near the water continued going out for short swims then coming back.  All the while they knew I was there but didn’t flee.  Two of them took some time to check out the biped who was near their lunch spot and then carried on with the otter business at hand.

I wanted to capture this experience not only with photos and videos, but with the feeling that was there.  The photos and videos were great as a reference, but there was so much more going on that couldn’t fit in one frame.  That is why I decided to make an illustration showing the many different characters and feelings set against a backdrop of environmental time.

The ocean, the shoreline, the trees have all witnessed the otter’s behaviour for thousands of years.  When humans come into the mix it changes things – with us, not them.  The imposing structure of the pier, the un-natural looking bridge in the background and the port with ships coming and going on a global economic time schedule.  Some people may see this and say “Yes!  We need to move faster.” Some people may look at this and see how humans have invaded the habitats of wildlife for the purposes of a cheap view or quick rendez-vous. I saw a family carrying on with life – eating when they could, staying active – despite the human disruption.  And I thought it was wonderful.