It’s a sign that autumn’s here that the otters are back frolicking in the river every morning outside the Riverside Hotel. Occasionally they’ve been seen munching a salmon on the riverbank, but I haven’t seen this myself, yet.
We think of these as “our” otters because they live in a holt underneath the hotel’s car park. If they are ours, why shouldn’t we put them to some use? I’ve been reading how, in the 19th century, the French, using techniques gleaned from the Chinese, would train an otter to catch salmon, and deposit it at the feet of its master, just as a retriever dog will deposit a bird. The trick is to catch an otter when it’s very young and get it accustomed to a diet of vegetables and meat, so that when it catches a fish it doesn’t immediately devour it. The otters at the Riverside produce 2 sets of offspring a year so it should be easy enough to catch a cub. We have a Chinese chef, and he could do the training. Then we could serve salmon to our guests secure in the knowledge that it’s fresh and organic. Somehow, I’ve got a feeling that there may be a law or two against catching and training otters, but now that they are no longer rare (in fact they are everywhere) this is probably a good time to relax the law and put them to some use.