Brown Pelicans and River Otters

Brown Pelicans are primarily a coastal bird and can be commonly found at Point Reyes National Seashore. Squadrons of pelicans can be seen cruising over the open water and plunge-diving while feeding on fish. They are quite smaller than their cousin, the White Pelican.

Brown Pelican flying over the water looking for fish. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @560 mm, ISO 800, f/8, 1/2500. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved.

When most people think of River Otters, they think of cute furry playful animals. They do seem to have their share of fun.

River Otter on the sandy shoreline of Abbott’s Lagoon. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @384 mm, ISO 800, f/8, 1/400. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved.

River Otters are like every other mammal in that they need to eat. And their favorite food is fish; the same food pelicans eat. But River Otters also feed on whatever else might be available, including birds. The otters at Abbott’s Lagoon have become masters at catching and killing Brown Pelicans. An adult otter will swim up underneath a pelican resting on the water, grab its head, pull it under the surface and kill it. While I haven’t actually seen the kill, I have seen the otters towing a dead pelican across the lagoon. Pelican carcasses can be found scattered along the shoreline.

Two River Otters feeding on a fresh-killed Brown Pelican. Sony a9 + 100-400mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @560 mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/1000. ©Stanley Buman. All Rights Reserved.

While nature can be beautiful, it can also have what we may perceive as an ugly side. But even the River Otters need to feed their young. The cycle of life continues.