A leisurely swim in Washington state’s Cliff Lake turned into something from a B-movie horror plot, when a swimmer was attacked by a pair of otters.
On his way out for a training swim while on vacation, triathlete Stew Larsen said he swam past what he thought was a curious river otter. A little splashing sent the critter scurrying into the brush.
But on his way home, Larsen said the otter came back with a buddy: Two of them were now watching him swim past. The splashing didn’t help this time, and the emboldened otters advanced on the swimmer.
In the resulting waterborne scuffle, Larsen said he “connected with one of them” and ended up bitten on his right thigh, where an otter’s fangs cut through his wetsuit to draw a bit of blood. “I had been thinking that if they’re protecting a den, I’d be better off in the middle of the water and away from the shore,” he said, “but I finally figured that if I’m going to be bitten, I need to be on land and I swam with everything that I had left.” Eventually, he said, he was able to make it to some rocks, where the otters backed off and a relative in a boat was able to make a rescue.
Otter attacks are rare in southwest Montana, and otters aren’t hungry for human flesh. But they can be territorial, and are apex predators capable of taking on crocodiles. They’re cute from afar, but don’t piss them off on their own turf.