‘Extinct’ Japanese Otter Caught on Camera After Nearly Four Decades

A wild otter previously thought to be extinct has been caught on camera on Tsushima Island, Japan.

Japan Times reported that this has been the first sighting of this particular species of wild otter in the country for at least 38 years, according to University of the Ryukyus. While the news may come off as exciting, the team is still hesitant to confidently assert that this otter is, in fact, the Japanese River Otter, which is believed to be extinct.

The last reported sighting of the Japanese River Otter was in 1979 in the western Japanese city of Susaki in Kochi Prefecture.

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According to the Environment Ministry, the two otters spotted on film are likely Eurasian breeds. One of them is believed to have originated from South Korea or even from Sakhalin in Russia; the exact breed of the other otter is yet to be determined, but scientists are not excluding the possibility that it could be the Japanese River Otter.

Scientists are concerned about the otters’ safety on the island and have urged the locals to inform them if they ever stumble across one. “I hope (local residents) will not feed the (observed) otter and offer information on the animal if they obtain any,” said professor of Animal Ecology, Masako Izawa.

Image via Wikimedia Commons / Paxson Woelber (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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