There was a time when otters were gone from Missouri rivers. Some people wish this was still the case as they eat lots of fish and crawdads.
The Meramec River is a half mile up the road from this place. It’s pretty small here and ignored by most big fish and creatures.
Our creek is even smaller. During dry weather the flow sinks down into the gravel so there is a series of pools. The fish are small minnows, darters and madtoms mostly in the inch to four inch range. A few minnows make it to six inches long.
When the creek sinks into the gravel, the fish become trapped. Many die. The crawdads feast and raise baby crawdads. They get big, six inches long, and fat.
Crawdads dig burrows down into the water table. They survive the low water times.
Under the circumstances, the last creatures I would expect to see in the creek are otters. Raccoons, opossums, snapping turtles, yes. Otters, no.
Yet three otters did arrive at our plank bridge across the creek. They swam around in the pool around the cement piers and found a hollowed out place under a cement slab anchoring one pier.
For an hour or two there were sounds of big rocks plunking over, bubbling chirps, a growl or two, crunching and splashing. Heads poked up one by one through a hole and disappeared again.
Finally the otters came out again. They climbed up on the bank and dropped back into the creek. Then they moved on, returning to the river.
The rains came. The creek is flowing again. Now would be a better time for these sleek visitors to stop in. At least that is my opinion.
Down in the creek the minnows and crawdads are getting back into their normal routines. They didn’t much enjoy their visitors and hope they don’t return.