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News article created on 28 March 2013

New partnership to boost Black Country otters

We're delighted to announce an exciting new partnership with the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham. The partnership aims to boost the numbers of the shy and elusive otter along the canals in the West Midlands, and help to bring back a species which was once hunted to near extinction.

We are delighted that the National Sea Life Centre will be supporting the work of the Canal & River Trust and helping us protect and enhance habitats for otters along the waterways. Paul Wilkinson

As part of the partnership, employees from the National Sea Life Centre are aiming to raise £2,000 for the Trust to help protect and provide homes for vulnerable otters known to be living along the canals in West Midlands and the Black Country.  

A team of dedicated employees from the centre will also volunteer their time to help ecologists from the Trust install otter homes, known as holts, and ramps at various locations allowing the otters easy access to the waterways.

Volunteers will install fish refuge areas along the edge of canal, to increase numbers of fish, the otters main food source, along stretches of waterway where they are known to live. These refuges will provide shelter for young fish and help maintain fish numbers on stretches where otters are known to hunt.

DNA analysis

Volunteers will also carry out a DNA analysis of otter droppings (spraint) to work out how many otters are living along the canals in the Midlands and near the Sea Life Centre and to find how far they travel along the waterways.

Paul Wilkinson, ecologist for the Canal & River Trust, said: “We are delighted that the National Sea Life Centre will be supporting the work of the Canal & River Trust and helping us protect and enhance habitats for otters along the waterways.  It is a great sign that otters have been spotted living along urban canals as it proves that the water is clean and that there is a good supply of food.”

Jamie Turner, marketing manager from the National Sea Life Centre Birmingham, adds: “We are passionate about conserving animals that live along and within our nation’s waterways and are delighted we can help the Trust encourage more otters to the canals.  We will be holding lots of fundraising events throughout the year and collecting donations from visitors to the centre to help provide homes for these wonderful secretive mammals. We also will be displaying information about otters and helping children and adults learn more about this inquisitive city dweller.”