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Video update: River otters in action along Eastport’s Little Seatuck Creek

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Conservation groups reported last month that river otters are thriving in Eastport’s Little Seatuck Creek.

Well, now we have proof.

Luke Ormand with the Town of Brookhaven captured nighttime moving images of a pair of the cute little guys scampering about along the creek. Both were clearly curious by the camera’s presence in the woods.

Here’s the video that Ormand, a GreaterMoriches contributor, recorded on April 27.

Below is GreaterMoriches’ original story about the river otter’s resurgence on Long Island.

The river otter’s resurgence on Long Island is moving along quite swimmingly, the Seatuck Environmental Association reports.

Otters have taken up residence over the last year in Eastport’s Little Seatuck Creek, as well as in Carmans River in Brookhaven, according to Seatuck, an Islip-based outfit dedicated to conserving Long Island wildlife and the environment.

It’s great news — and not just for the otters.

River otters need clean water and an abundance of fish to thrive, so their increasing population is a positive indicator that the health of Long Island’s wetlands and surrounding habitat is headed in the right direction, experts said.

“The resurgence of our native river otter population is great news for our environment and speaks to the power of effective conservation strategies,” Seatuck Executive Director Enrico Nardone said. “Seatuck is committed to working to monitor, protect and preserve these delightfully charismatic creatures.”

Seatuck’s Long Island River Otter Project team have documented the expansion of the river otter’s distribution on Long Island. The river otters’ distribution on Long Island had been centered on the north shore and the Peconic Estuary. But last year, two otters were photographed on the Connetquot River.

The river otters once populated fresh and saltwater creeks, bays and ponds across Long Island. But unregulated fur trapping, water pollution and habitat loss changed all that.

The river otter’s populations were depleted dramatically on Long Island and across North America during the 1800s. Conservation laws have enabled their recovery, which has been slow but steady.

These days, automobile traffic is among the chief concerns for environmentalists pushing the resurgence of sea otters in Suffolk County.

“Long Island’s highly fragmented and developed landscape poses a challenge for otter recolonization in the form of roadkills, where otters are forced out of the water and onto roads in order to travel around dams,” said Mike Bottini, a Seatuck wildlife biologist who has tracked and studied river otters on Long Island since 2008.

A recent river otter roadkill incident in Eastport prompted Seatuck, with the help of Brookhaven Town staff, to construct a simple concrete block “stairway” for the otters to pass over the dam safely, avoiding the street above.

“It’s just one small solution in one area but as their population increases, we will need to find better and longer-lasting strategies to mitigate these occurrences,” Bottini said.

To engage the community and increase their monitoring capacity, Seatuck is partnering with Long Island Sound Study, New York Sea Grant, South Shore Estuary Reserve and Peconic Estuary Partnership, in an effort to train “community science volunteers” to locate and monitor river otter populations.

The results will be used to track the otters’ range, access the health of their habitat and prioritize areas for future restoration and protection.