Otterly Fascinating

Otterly Fascinating booth set-up at the 2014 Festival of Biodiversity, complete with two otter figurines.

Did you visit the 2014 Festival of Biodiversity? If so, we hope you visited a booth labelled 'Otterly Fascinating'. Last July, a group of us students from Nanyang Girls’ High put up a booth at the Festival with the aim of raising awareness about otters in Singapore.

These animals were once thought to be extinct, until they were sighted in the 1990s. Recently, they have attracted much attention as they have been sighted by the public more frequently.

Children putting their minds together to finish a jigsaw puzzle at the Otterly Fascinating booth.

At the booth, we focused on the Smooth-coated Otter.

So, what is a Smooth-coated Otter? Lutrogale perspicillata) is one of 13 otter species in the world and is found mostly in Southeast Asia, as well as in some parts of the Indian subcontinent. And of course, it got its name from its smooth and short fur. It was first seen in the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Pulau Ubin, but now, otters can be sighted nearly all over the island as they explore southwards. They can even be seen at Marina Bay!

At our booth, we shared with visitors general facts about these otters, including their diet (which consists mainly of fish, but also crustaceans, clams and snails); habitats (otters make their den in the river bank); and family life (babies are born in a litter of one to two and stay with the parents until about a year old).

Children visitors could also play with otter jigsaw puzzles, so that they can learn what these animals look like while having fun at the same time. In addition, we gave all our visitors postcards to take home, each with a different fun fact about Smooth-coated Otters.

A little girl is rewarded with a sweet for visiting the Otterly Fascinating booth.

Through this effort, our team hoped that with greater awareness, our visitors will pass on the information to their friends and families.

While preparing for the exhibition, we realised that while our group had chosen the Smooth-coated Otters as our conservation subject, there are still many more creatures out there that we need to pay attention to as well. Working on this project has let us appreciate the wildlife here in Singapore, both big and small.

In parting, we would like to thank all the people who helped us prepare and set up the booth, in particular our teacher-in-charge, Lim Cheng Puay, and NParks, who lent us two otter figurines to display. Even if you did not get to visit the Festival or our booth, we hope you will take the time to learn more about the otters and other animals in our ecosystem, and form a closer connection with nature.

The Otterly Fascinating team from Nanyang Girls’ High School: (left to right) Choong Jia En, Chong Li Xuan, Yap Jia Xuan, Tan Yi Bing, Nicola Lim Jia Fng and their teacher, Lim Cheng Puay.

Text by Chong Li Xuan and Choong Jia En
Photos of the booth by Otterly Fascinating
Photo of the team by Henrietta Woo.

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