Two otters found dead on Changi Beach

AMANDA LEE Today Online 26 Apr 18;

Two otters were found dead at Changi Beach. One of the otters was found along the beach (left), while the other was found in a metal trap used to catch crabs and fish near the Changi Sailing Club.

SINGAPORE ― Two otters were found dead at Changi Beach on Wednesday (April 25).

One of the otters was found in a metal trap used to catch crabs and fish near the Changi Sailing Club, while the other was found along the beach.

Otter community group Otterwatch posted photos of the dead animals on Facebook on Thursday morning, and the news spread quickly on social media.

There are at least 60 otters in Singapore, and they can be found in places such as Pasir Ris, Sungei Buloh, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Pulau Ubin, and the Gardens By The Bay. Popular with Singaporeans, the smooth-coated otters have often been spotted frolicking in the water and on land.

OtterWatch said in a post that the two otters were “likely” to be members of the Pasir Ris family, and that they were discovered by members of the public.

A spokesman from OtterWatch told TODAY that the otter in the trap had half of its head “chewed off by (a) monitor lizard”.

This is not the first time that such an incident has occurred. In June last year, a dead otter was found in a cage along the Marina Promenade, and a man was subsequently caught setting traps in the area.

“Many traps were recovered and removed by agencies and volunteers… When will there be an end to this irresponsible trapping?” said the Otterwatch spokesman.

“One man’s leisure and pleasure is causing so much harm to marine creatures. It should be banned.”

Changi Sailing Club general manager Edwin Low told TODAY that this was the first time he had heard of an otter being killed by a trap. He added: “Maybe the authorities could issue advisories to these fishing enthusiasts, and even ban the use of these traps.

“I would like to see a ‘no fishing zone’ where we are located.”

Responding to queries, Mr Kalai Vanan, deputy chief executive of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, said it is aware of the incident and is “very sad that (the) two otters have been found dead”.

Abandoned fish and crab traps, as well as fishing lines with hooks and nets can be found in many of Singapore’s waterways and coastal areas, added Mr Kalai. Apart from otters, turtles and monitor lizards caught on fish hooks often suffer slow and painful deaths.

He also called on the public to be vigilant when walking along the waterways and coastal areas “to look out for abandoned fish traps/lines and report them to the authorities”.

“We hope the agencies will investigate this matter to find out more and look into better enforcement measures to deter such incidents,” added Mr Kalai.

Dead otters Pasir Ris
Nicole Chang Channel NewsAsia 26 Apr 18;

SINGAPORE: Two otters, one of which was in a fishing trap, were found dead on Wednesday (Apr 25) at the boardwalk near the Changi Sailing Club.

The owner of a sailing boat company, Mr Scott McCook, told Channel NewsAsia that he was at the sailing club in the afternoon when a club employee told him that a dead otter had been found.

“By the time we found the cage it was 4pm or 5pm,” he said. He saw the dead otter inside a fishing trap, while another dead otter was “on the beach” in the water.

He said he did not know who to contact about the carcasses, but took some photographs.

By the next morning, one of the carcasses had “drifted off”, said Mr McCook, but the 56-year-old came across members of the OtterWatch community group along Changi Beach and showed them the photos he had.

OtterWatch member Alvin Tan told Channel NewsAsia that the group was taking photos of some otters at Changi Beach on Thursday morning when Mr McCook told them about the dead otters.

“We asked him to bring us over immediately,” said Mr Tan.

Mr McCook took them to the fishing trap, where they saw the dead otter, its head “badly rotten”.

“We saw a lot of maggots on the head of the otter,” he said. “In fact there (was) a big monitor lizard biting at this dead otter.

“We managed to chase the monitor lizard away. The head of the otter was almost gone, the body and legs were all swollen.”

He added that OtterWatch was working with authorities over the incident.

Mr Jeffery Teo, another member of OtterWatch, told Channel NewsAsia that these metal traps can be found along coastal areas. Some were new traps and some had been abandoned, he said.

"How many marine animals must be killed before law and enforcement keep up with these irresponsible actions using large-size metal cages?" Mr Teo said.

Singapore's Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) also called on the relevant agencies to investigate and look into better enforcement measures to deter such incidences.

"Abandoned fish or crab traps, fishing lines with hooks and nets can be found in many of our waterways and coastal areas," said the animal welfare group in response to Channel NewsAsia's queries.

"Besides otters, so many other animals suffer as well. Turtles and monitor lizards get caught on fish hooks as well, often suffering a slow painful death."

ACRES said it is "very sad" that two otters have been found dead. It urged members of the public "be vigilant" when walking along waterways and coastal regions, and report cases of abandoned fish traps or lines to the authorities.

In response to Channel NewsAsia's queries, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said it is investigating the incident. "One otter carcass was retrieved and WRS (Wildlife Reserves Singapore) is carrying out a necropsy on it," AVA added.

Source: CNA/nc(cy)

2 otters found dead near Changi Sailing Club, including 1 trapped in illegal fishing cage
Ng Huiwen Straits Times 26 Apr 18;

SINGAPORE - Two otters believed to be from the Pasir Ris family were found dead near the Changi Sailing Club.

While one was found trapped in an illegal fishing cage, the other was seen on the beach near the cage.

A member of the public who found the otters on Wednesday alerted Facebook page OtterWatch on Thursday (April 26) morning.

Photos shared by OtterWatch show one of the otters covered in mud in a large metal cage under a boardwalk, while the other had been washed up on the beach.

Avid otter watcher Jeffrey Teo, who is part of OtterWatch, told The Straits Times that the otter found in the cage was "in a bad shape".

It had metal cuts on its face and a monitor lizard was seen chewing on its body, he said, adding that the carcass will be handed over to the Wildlife Reserves Singapore for a post-mortem.

However, the carcass of the other otter which was found on the beach near the cage, was no longer there by the time volunteers went down.

National University of Singapore biology lecturer N. Sivasothi, who heads the Otter Working Group, told ST that the otters were likely from the Pasir Ris family, comprising 10 adults and four pups.

The family usually roam the waters in Pasir Ris and Changi, and in November last year, made a surprising appearance on the tarmac of Changi Airport.

Mr Sivasothi said that the otters, just like other wild animals, could have been in search of food, when they became trapped.

"Any wild animal will explore their surroundings in great detail in pursuit of food," he said.

"While otters are usually suspicious of new structures and are careful around them, there could be a possibility that the cage has been there for quite a while, and they have become familiar enough with it to explore it."

He added that if fish was used as bait in the cage, then this may have driven the otters to enter it and get caught, before drowning.

With Singapore's waterways now relatively clear of pollution, wildlife has started to make a return in recent years, he noted.

Hence, there is a greater urgency to eradicate illegal fishing practices that could have a significant detrimental effect on wild animals, he said.

Currently, the public is able to alert national water agency PUB on suspicious activities in Singapore's reservoirs.

But in other areas, it is often the public who remove illegal traps, cages or fishing lines on their own initiative.

In June last year, a dead otter from the Bishan family was found in a cage at Marina Promenade in the Kallang Basin. A man was caught setting up traps in the area later that day.

And in January, otters were spotted climbing an illegal fish-trapping cage in the Marina Reservoir. An otter watcher alerted PUB, which removed the cage with the help of otter community group OtterWatch.

It is illegal to use such trapping cages in any reservoirs or waterways, even in areas where fishing is allowed.

Additionally, those caught trapping any animal or doing any act which injures fauna in any reservoir may be fined up to $3,000.

Related link
Otterwatch facebook post on the incident.