2 otters found dead at Changi Sailing Club boardwalk

2 otters found dead at Changi Sailing Club boardwalk

Dead otters Pasir Ris
One of the otters found dead in a fishing trap near Changi Sailing Club. (Photo: Facebook/OtterWatch)

SINGAPORE: Two otters, one of which was in a fishing trap, were found dead on Wednesday (Apr 25) at the boardwalk near the Changi Sailing Club.

The owner of a sailing boat company, Mr Scott McCook, told Channel NewsAsia that he was at the sailing club in the afternoon when a club employee told him that a dead otter had been found.

“By the time we found the cage it was 4pm or 5pm,” he said. He saw the dead otter inside a fishing trap, while another dead otter was “on the beach” in the water.

He said he did not know who to contact about the carcasses, but took some photographs.

By the next morning, one of the carcasses had “drifted off”, said Mr McCook, but the 56-year-old came across members of the OtterWatch community group along Changi Beach and showed them the photos he had.

OtterWatch member Alvin Tan told Channel NewsAsia that the group was taking photos of some otters at Changi Beach on Thursday morning when Mr McCook told them about the dead otters.

“We asked him to bring us over immediately,” said Mr Tan.

Mr McCook took them to the fishing trap, where they saw the dead otter, its head “badly rotten”.

“We saw a lot of maggots on the head of the otter,” he said. “In fact there (was) a big monitor lizard biting at this dead otter.

“We managed to chase the monitor lizard away. The head of the otter was almost gone, the body and legs were all swollen.”

He added that OtterWatch was working with authorities over the incident.

Mr Jeffery Teo, another member of OtterWatch, told Channel NewsAsia that these metal traps can be found along coastal areas. Some were new traps and some had been abandoned, he said.

"How many marine animals must be killed before law and enforcement keep up with these irresponsible actions using large-size metal cages?" Mr Teo said.

Singapore's Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) also called on the relevant agencies to investigate and look into better enforcement measures to deter such incidences. 

"Abandoned fish or crab traps, fishing lines with hooks and nets can be found in many of our waterways and coastal areas," said the animal welfare group in response to Channel NewsAsia's queries. 

"Besides otters, so many other animals suffer as well. Turtles and monitor lizards get caught on fish hooks as well, often suffering a slow painful death."

ACRES said it is "very sad" that two otters have been found dead. It urged members of the public "be vigilant" when walking along waterways and coastal regions, and report cases of abandoned fish traps or lines to the authorities.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is investigating the incident, Dr Adrian Loo, chair of the Otter Working Group, said in response to Channel NewsAsia's queries.

"One otter carcass was retrieved and WRS (Wildlife Reserves Singapore) is carrying out a necropsy on it," he added.

The Otter Working Group includes AVA, the National Parks Board, OtterWatch and WRS.

Source: CNA/nc(cy)