A beach-goer has captured an extremely rare sighting of an OTTER in broad daylight – chasing a crab on British beach.
Lucky Lal McKenzie saw the unusual spectacle as the otter clambered out of the sea and ran along the sand in search of a meal.
She was on Thurlestone Sands, South Milton, Devon, at the time and described the whole experience as “incredible.”
Otters used to be a common sight in the UK, but in the 1950s their numbers plummeted to such an extent that they were legally protected.
By the 1970s their numbers had fallen by 75 per cent, but thanks to measures being taken to protect them their numbers have began to increase.
Despite this a sighting in broad daylight is still a very rare occurrence.
Lal said: “It was incredible and I felt very privileged to see it.
“He walked along the beach for a bit and we managed to get some photos, and then he swam back into the sea.”
At the time of this sighting, Lal didn’t have a camera with her so rang along the beach until she found someone fully equipped to capture the sighting.
Fellow beach-goer Ellie Baker obliged and captured this series of incredible photos.
Nigel Mortimer, estuaries officer at South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, said: “It is unusual to see an otter on the coast around here.
“Most of our local sightings have been around the Kingsbridge and Salcombe estuary, Slapton Ley and Beeston Ley.
“It may be that our beaches are too busy with people as they are often spotted on the coast in Scotland.
“They’re not restricted to watercourses and do make their way over land.”
Otter hunting was banned in 1979 in Wales and England and in 1982 in Scotland.
Since then otters have made a remarkable comeback and are today found in good numbers throughout Cumbria and the Westcountry.
A spokesman for Devon Wildlife Trust identified the otter as a European otter, which is a freshwater mammal.
He said that many people get confused when they see otters on the beach and assume they are sea otters, but they are actually European otters hunting on the beach.
The spokesman said: “It is a European otter. They can survive for a short time in the sea, but not for long. The sea otter is an American species.
“A lot of people see otters on beaches in the UK and think they have seen a sea otter.
“This one has more than likely swam downstream and wondered along the beach, it would have eventually returned to the river and swam back up stream.
“You would be very lucky to see one in the day time. I have seen them in the day time a few times, hunting in the river near our office.
“It’s rare to see them in the day time, unusual even, but not unheard of.”