Although rarely seen in the wild, the otter is admired for its playful character and graceful aquatic agility, which were established in the popular imagination through books and films such as Tarka the Otter and Ring of Bright Water. This, however, is just a small part of their story – throughout history the otter has also been widely hunted for its fur and to prevent it from killing fish. Sadly, all thirteen species of otter are now considered threatened, and their survival is by no means certain.
In Otter, Daniel Allen reveals how the animal’s identity has been shaped by human interactions. This wide-ranging book includes anecdotes from folklore, sports and popular literature, as well as exploring the ongoing efforts towards the otter’s conservation.
1 Introducing the Otter
2 Folklore, Fables, Tradition and the Otter
3 Commercial Otter Hunting
4 Otter Hunting for Sport
5 The Literary Otter
6 The Otter On Screen
7 Protecting the Otter
Appendix: Otter Data
Timeline of the Otter
Websites and Associations
Daniel Allen is a human geographer with expertise in cultural, historical and environmental geography. He is also an affiliate member of the IUCN/SSC Otter Specialist Group.
"Did you know that the otter is JK Rowling's favourite animal? Or that the earliest evidence of its existence dates back 20 million years? Or that the fur of the sea otter is the densest in the animal kingdom? All these and numerous other intriguing snippets of otter lore are contained within a beautifully presented volume as charming and captivating as its subject matter [...] gorgeous illustrations on nearly every page [...] you will love this one."
– Daily Mail
"Daniel Allen and Reaktion's accomplished production of Otter befit its exceptionally charismatic and beautiful subject, and skilfully tracks the manner in which conservation lobbying and literature helped transform the otter from victim to survivor. It is to be hoped that it will inspire renewed efforts to study and conserve an animal which is now showing worrying signs of decline."
"Daniel Allen gives a captivating account of our changing relationship with the otter – once persecuted, now adored."
– BBC Wildlife Magazine
"[A] fine furry paean"
– The Guardian
"The otters reputation is well served by this readable account."
– The Countryman
"Otter is the most brilliant mix of facts ancient and modern about the otter species and its vulnerability to man's seemingly insatiable need to hunt the poor animal for reasons other than survival. I am sure the book will help to ensure that the hunting of otters will never return to this country – and I hope other lands will follow this example [...] A fascinating and illuminating book."
– Virginia McKenna OBE
"This monograph tells both sides of the story and pulls no punches and must be the best account and resume of otters and their problems and their success than any other book I have read. It deals with the whole spectrum from persecution to folklore and sport to commercial enterprise."
– Highland News
"a fascinating text, many illustrations and good value for money [...] a must-have of a book"
– North Devon Journal