and survival skills, otters often play for pure enjoyment, a rare trait in animals and usually a sign of higher intelligence.
Mating takes place in the fall after rival males battle for a mate. After a gestation period of up to 270 days, the female otter gives birth to one to three young, called kits, in a den with an underwater entrance constructed beneath the bank of a stream, river or lake. The mother otter defends her kits fiercely and they remain with her as a family unit for over a year.
The otter has few natural enemies other than man, who trap it for its rich, thick pelt, and who also have lowered populations through habitat destruction and roadkill. Look for otters in larger streams or rivers where food is abundant and the water is unpolluted and quiet. The best time to look is early morning or evening.
Art materials, such as construction paper, markers, crayons scissors, tape
Reference materials such as Carolina Rocks! by Carolyn Hanna Murphy, South Carolina: The Making of a Landscape by Charles F. Kovacik and John J. Winberry, The South Carolina Aquarium Orientation Video, and The South Carolina Aquarium Guide to Aquatic Habitats of South Carolina by Pete Laurie and David Chamberlain.
1. Explain to students that when they visit the South Carolina Aquarium, the otters are displayed in the Mountain Forest Aviary. Explain some of the environmental needs of river otters (they like bodies of fresh and brackish water that allow enough room to swim, hunt and play). Ask students if they think the Mountains are the only place in South Carolina where river otters can be found.
2. Have the students research:
the elevation, topography, average rainfall and average temperature of each region in South Carolina (Mountains, Piedmont, Sandhills, Coastal Plain, Coast)
the aquatic habitats found in each region (such as streams, rivers, lakes, swamps, salt marshes and the ocean
one town or city found in each region that most of the students would be familiar with (Such as Mountains: Caesars Head; Piedmont: Rock Hill; Sandhills: Columbia; Coastal Plain: Florence; and Coast: Charleston.).
From COASTeam Aquatic Workshops: Mountains (Grade 4); a joint effort between the
COASTeam Program at the College of Charleston and the South Carolina Aquarium – funded by the SC Sea Grant Consortium.