Otters oughtta eat octopi and indeed they do according to photographer John Moncrieff, who snapped one savvy cephalopod snacker in the Shetland islands.
Call it an animal farewell to arms... all eight of 'em! Eurasian otters have been designated NT (Near Threatened) by the IUCN but they're doing just fine in Shetland, an island archipelago located just over 100 miles northeast of the Scottish mainland.
The region's plentiful sea life – and the otters' evolved skill in catching it – are the main reasons roughly 12% of the UK's total breeding otter population exists on a total land area of just 566 square miles.
John Moncrieff is the closest thing to a Shetland otter expert and his resume is bolstered by a keen eye expressed through the camera's lens. “I am a part-time guide for people wanting to see otters,” explains Moncrieff, “and over the last couple of years otters catching octopus has been a very regular occurrence - with myself and the clients seeing them on nearly every trip.”
Moncrieff's most recent capture occurred on May 29th when he was fortunate to come across an otter grappling with a freshly-caught octopus plucked from the ocean just moments before.
“The first otter I ever photographed, just over 10 years ago, had caught an octopus, and at the time it was the first occasion I'd ever seen it,” recounts Moncrieff. “But now there seems to be an abundance of octopus in Shetland waters.”
Could global warming be responsible? The otters don't seem to care, they're too busy enjoying nature's bounty... and bountiful it is, allowing the sleek and graceful mammals to become rather fussy in their eating habits. “They often only eat the tentacles,” states Moncrieff. “Several times I have found the still-living head part lying on the rocks.” Mmm, one octopus head on the rocks, shaken and not stirred, coming right up!