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Cornwall Coastal Otter Project

Wildlife photographer Ian McCarthy has kindly shared with us this wonderful piece of camera trap footage of one of our Cornish otters!

Coastal otters, sometimes known as sea otters, are the exact same species as our typical freshwater European otter (Lutra lutra). The difference is just the location which they inhabit/feed. Despite anecdotal evidence, coastal otters around Cornwall remain elusive, and records are scarce. 


Otters mark their territories by depositing spraint (droppings) on prominent features near the waterways e.g. a rock or fallen tree. They tend to clearly contain remains of prey such as scales and bones.


By asking volunteers to collect samples of otter spraint, we can not only boost the records of otters in Cornwall but also collaborate with researchers to identify the animal's prey species as coastal or freshwater.







If you are interested in getting involved, feel free to look through the proposed methodology for sample collection and at the map to check for sites nearby. For the grid reference of each location, please download this document listing the areas with potential as coastal otter sites.







Click on an area of the map to zoom in! Proposed sites are marked by orange circles and are numbered according to the document linked above. If you believe you could survey one or more of the sites please contact us to request a spraint collection kit.

CCOP Blog  -

Keep up to date with the project's progress below

04 Mar 2020

Results so far...

Here is our first poster showing the results from the CCOP so far. It is due to be presented at the upcoming Mammal Society conference in Cambridge this month. 

Thank you all for all of your hard work! 


30 Mar 2019

Otter Spraint Workshop!

Professor Naomi Sykes and the Centre for Human-Animal-Environment Bioarchaeology at the University of Exeter hosted our joint Fish Bone Workshop to support the Cornwall Coastal Otter Project. 30 students (about half of whom were otter volunteers and half were archaeologists) together with half a dozen internationally renowned experts in fish bones and remains...

26 Mar 2019

February Updates!

In February, our chair Dave went out on three different spraint searches with mixed success...

12 Jan 2019

Boscastle Spraint Success!

A nice sunny day so we were inspired to get over to Boscastle and head up the  (shaded) Valency Valley. Boscastle Harbour is a National Otter Survey site despite the hoards of tourists, however it was difficult to see any spraint on the dark rocks (especially as I had forgotten my binoculars….). Heading back up the river...

06 Jan 2019

CCOP New Year Update

Motivated by the sunshine (or at least absence of rain) we have been out onto the coast to check out a couple of sites. First one was west of Trebarwith on the North Coast where a very promising, and secluded, valley drops into the sea. Despite a good check on all the likely spots, especially where streams meet and around the bridges we couldn’t find anything...

01 Dec 2018

Coastal Spraint Sites

Tony Atkinson was telling me about his experience looking for otters around the coast of the Llyn peninsular in North Wales and reminded me that not all otter spraint sites are conveniently located on rocks by the river’s edge. It may seem a bit disheartening to try and find spraint on the open coast where there are no obvious features to start with...

24 Nov 2018

CCOP November Update

The CCOP is making some serious progress – we now have over 20 volunteers out looking for otter spraint around the coast from Bude to Saltash. Most of our current volunteers have experience with otter surveys but we are also organising two surveyors training days in January/February. One to be held at The Lost Gardens of Heligan and another further west. These are aimed at introducing novice surveyors to spraint collection and analysis...

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