Cork Nature Network is committed to protecting Ireland’s wildlife through education, research and conservation. For this reason, CNN has engaged in a long-term project to study and protect Ireland’s otter population.
The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) has been in decline across Europe since the 1960s. However, Ireland is unique in that our otter population has remained relatively stable. This makes Ireland a crucial stronghold for the Eurasian otter. Despite this, our otters still face many threats and require protection to maintain their population. These threats include habitat loss and pollution. Otters rely on good quality water and healthy riparian habitats for food and shelter. Otters are a keystone species and play a vital role in the ecosystem and it is crucial that they are protected.
History of the Project
Cork Nature Network began working on our otter project in 2016 in Cork city as there were concerns about the loss of suitable otter habitats in the city. Through this project, CNN aimed to increase public interest in our otters. The project has been very successful in increasing education and awareness about otters in Cork city. Past activities of Cork Nature Network with otters have included:
- Between 2016 and 2017, Cork Nature Network conducted a Citizen Science Survey to assess the presence of otters in the River Bride. You can read the report of this survey here.
- Cork Nature Network has run many promotional projects in Blackpool including a children’s storytelling hour in Blackpool library, a visual display in Blackpool Shopping Centre, talks on Otters A video called Resourceful Rivers has also been produced to show the connectivity between humans and aquatic habitats.
- In 2018, Grace Walsh, a student from University College Cork, collaborated with Cork Nature Network to conduct a camera trapping survey to determine how effective motion sensor cameras are at detecting otters. This study found that otters were present at the study site and were primarily active at night and recommended future research and conservation of these otters.
- In February of 2021, Cork Nature Network released a short film about Cork’s otters. The aim of this film was to teach people about the habits and behaviours of the elusive otter. This was filmed and directed by Tom Mason and funded by Cork City Council, Lush, The Heritage Council and Patagonia. You can watch the film here
- In August 2021, Cork Nature Network ran a sand art event in Youghall as a national heritage week event with local individuals and organisations. The results is a video Link. https://youtu.be/2CFgmfCwvDE
Otter survey of Cork City and Harbour
In 2020, Cork Nature Network commissioned research on the rivers of Cork City and Cork Harbour to ascertain the distribution of otters. The project was funded by Fota Wildlife Park, Cork City, The National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Office of Public Works.
The research outcomes included that there were several areas in the study area where there was considerable otter activity. It also examined methods of collecting DNA and looked at the otter diet. The results are published in this pdf: Cork Nature Network Otter Report 2022
Cork Nature Network have developed a number of otter trails to encourage awareness of otters by showing their habitats and providing information at the same time via signs along the route. The trails are:
Cork City trail
In 2020, Cork Nature Network created a trail in Cork city along the banks of the River Lee which contains signs and information about Cork’s otters. This unique walkway was the first of its kind in Ireland and aims to increase public awareness about nature and to encourage people to get outdoors and engage with their local wildlife. It has been highly successful in increasing enthusiasm and education about Cork’s wonderful otters. The trail starts at the Christy Ring bridge on Camden Quay and ends in Fitzgerald’s park and provides a beautiful view of the river Lee where you might even get lucky enough to spot one of our local otters!
The second trail was created in Bishopstown following the Twopot river and ending at the Curraheen River walk. Theis trails were created in collaboration with Cork City Council and Bishopstown Tidy Towns. Download the signs from the trail here!
The third trail was created in Ballincollig regional park along the river Lee. We would like to thank Cork City Council, Government of Ireland, Pobal and Healthy Ireland for funding the project and Ballincollig Tidy Towns for their support of the Ballincollig Otter trail. Download the signs for this trail here!
Otters in Youghal
Cork Nature Network secured funding from the Local Waters and Community Office and Cork County Council Community Fund to run a project on otters in Youghal. From 2022 to 2022, we partnered with
Youghal Blue and Green Community Network and Gaelscoil Choráin to promote otters in the community and local school. A school competition was organised with school children and posters were produced with prizes awarded.
The results are shown in the Otterly Youghal leaflet. An information sign was also put up at the Slob Bank in Youghal. Cork Nature Network would like to extend thanks to their partners and to the funders for supporting this valuable work.
We are currently investigating the possibility of more otter trails in Cork and throughout Ireland. If you would like to get involved, please contact us!
We could not continue to run projects like this without your support. If you would like to help us continue the Otter project, please consider becoming a member: https://corknaturenetwork.ie/become-member/
- “How safe are Irish Otters? Aquatic Mammals and Floods” talk by Dr Paddy Sleeman at Cork Nature Network event in May 2019 https://youtu.be/cE4R07I-C_g
- Wild About Nature Otters Leaflet https://corknaturenetwork.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/otterleaflet.pdf
- Save Our Bride Otters https://www.saveourbrideotters.com/
- Walsh, G. (2018) Quality of data collected through the use of camera traps at a number of sites frequented by otters within Cork city. Cork: Community-Academic Research Links, University College Cork. Available at: https://cora.ucc.ie/bitstream/handle/10468/9272/GraceWalshCARLReport2018.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Yay Cork Article ‘This is where you can find out about Cork’s lovely urban otters’ 2018 https://www.yaycork.ie/this-is-where-you-can-find-out-about-corks-lovely-urban-otters/
Cork Beo Article ‘Nature lovers rejoice as trail like no ‘otter’ comes to Cork city’ 2020 https://www.corkbeo.ie/news/local-news/nature-lovers-rejoice-trail-like-19186505
Echo Article ‘Cork Nature Network develops Ireland’s first ever Otter Trail’ 2020 https://www.echolive.ie/corknews/arid-40094438.html
Yay Cork Article ‘Cork’s playful urban otters have been making the most of the deserted city’ 2020 https://www.yaycork.ie/corks-playful-urban-otters-have-been-making-the-most-of-the-deserted-city/
– Written by Rebecca O’sullivan
Ciaran Coghlan, Chris Moody, Youghal Blue & Green and Kristin Bracewell.