Otters – Introduction

Otter Survey April 2014

See the results of the otter survey from April 2014 here.

A message to the DMG from Dr Dan Forman

I am writing to highlight a project coordinated by Swansea University which aims to examine and record the extent of otter activity on the coastlines of Britain. I have attached a poster and some background information that may be of interest to your group.

The specific purposes of the project are to:

  • Begin to record and map the distribution of otter activity in coastal areas of Britain.
  • Raise awareness of use of coastal areas by otters in Britain. This includes sandy beaches, dunes, docks, salt marshes, estuaries and rocky shorelines.

Information that we need:

  • Location: please try to as specific as possible, a grid reference is ideal but don’t worry if you cannot provide one.
  • Date (day, month and year)
  • Approximate time of day
  • Details of what you saw. Please include as much information as possible. Did you see the otter on the beach, on rocky areas, or in the sea? How many otters did you observe? Have you seen them at this location before?

I would be extremely grateful if you could help promote this project and to encourage the submission of any otter records within 2km of the coastline.


The links implied below are under development as material is transferred and updated from the previous Dorset Otter Group website. Meanwhile, anyone interested in finding out more or in getting involved as an otter surveyor is invited to email

Photo: Colin Varndell

The Otter Section takes forward the work of the Dorset Otter Group which was formed in 1997 (App 3) to monitor the hoped-for recovery in otter numbers in the county. The work of the group was carried out with the backing of the Dorset Wildlife Trust who organised the training of volunteer surveyors and supported various activities. In late 2011, there was a widespread perception that the recovery was well-established and the DWT’s focus moved towards wider rivers and wetland conservation; it was agreed that the Otter Group would henceforth be led by volunteers. This was the catalyst which led to the formation of the independent Dorset Mammal Group.

The current surveying effort is of two types: a) a twice-yearly fixed-date survey in West Dorset (link 4) being coordinated and collated by the Mammal Group’s Otter Section and then submitted to Living Record (link 5) and b) irregular (predominantly quarterly) surveying in Central and East Dorset which is being continued by some volunteers in those areas in the ‘traditional’ manner and reported directly via Living Record. The otter section has issued an open invitation for surveyors from the latter group to join the fixed-date survey. Anyone interested in doing so is invited to contact us at for further details.

After surveying, our main involvement with otters is to monitor their fate when injured or killed on the road.

For emergencies (orphaned or injured otters) ring:

  • RSPCA National Emergency number: 0300 1234 999

To report otter carcasses:

  • Environment Agency National Number: 01258 483486 (during office hours), 0800 807060 (out of office hours)

There is a very useful advice note produced by Dorset County Council here.