A young, male smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) carcass was retrieved today from the periphery of West Coast Park. The carcass of the freshly-killed animal was discovered by NParks staff in the morning and I was alerted by Benjamin Lee in the afternoon and headed out the door in minutes.
The otter was quickly collected, preserved and stored in the Department of Biological Science’s Life Sciences Lab 7 in NUS. After some additional work, Kelvin Lim and I will transfer the specimen over to the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research where it will be stored.
I was sad to see the killed otter lying there at West Coast Park, not yet stiff. Still, I got to work and finished the wet preservation so the specimen will be used for public education in future.
Thanks are due to a number of people in NParks and NUS who helped ensure the specimens was retrieved and preserved for education and research.
Location of carcass in West Coast Park, off Harbour Drive
Dissection and immersion of the Smooth-coated otter carcass
Photo by Thanh Son Nguyen
RIP young otter, hope you’re in happy hunting grounds now.
3 hours ago [actually 2.33pm] – Benjamin Lee (NParks) alerted me about an otter carcass spotted this morning. Hoping to recover it now. Raffles Museum has freezer space.
3 hours ago – Smooth-coated Otter carcass been cooking in this blazing sun all morning so will be quite ripe. Ulp.
3 hours ago – Just picked up trash bags and gloves from Kelvin Lim at the Raffles Museum. He did not pass me clothes peg for my nose.
2 hours ago – Smooth otter carcass at West Coast Park, today http://goo.gl/fb/08PGc (this picture on posterous)
2 hours ago – Rats, museum freezer full of Christmas Island material. I’ll dissect back at the department immediately.
2 hours ago – Poor otter, carcass not stiff. Into five trash bags and a canvas bag, his warm body bouncing against me as I walk out. Dept pickup on way.
2 hours ago – Walking shook off the fever I was sleeping off before Benjamin called. All drenched now so Kelvin bringing t-shirt + dissection kit.
29 minutes ago – Smooth-coated otter dissection completed, all preserved; thank goodness for our washing area! Spine, and rib broken, likely roadkill.
This post was originally just a photo I had posted via Posterous. It was updated with these details. Ria Tan (who had also alerted me about the report of the poor otter) highlighted this on Facebook and will list it in WildSingapore News.
Thanks for all the hard work to retrieve and process the carcass, and to my two colleagues, Clarence and Weixun from Coastal Parks, who alerted me and provided assistance in locating the carcass. There was a challenge in communications yesterday but all is good! I hope to see a live otter in the wild soon!
Poor thing. Any idea of the cause of death?
Seems likely to be a road kill, very sad.
May I know what’s the purpose of dissecting the carcass ? How do you handle the remains ?
The animal is preserved to be kept at the Raffle Museum where we can examine it further for research. It will also be used in education. In order to do his, the internal organs, which degrade very quickly, are first removed and preserved separately. Some tissue samples are taken for DNA purposes and frozen. In this case I then preserved the whole animal in industrial alcohol which is a mixture or methanol and ethanol. I did not want a dry mount in order to retain a flexible skin with the skeleton intact.
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