A giant river otter thought to be locally extinct was recently spotted in Argentina for the first time in over 30 years.
Researchers unexpectedly sighted the otter as it was swimming in El Impenetrable National Park’s Bermejo River. Sebastián Di Martino, the director of conservation at Fundacion Rewilding Argentina, was kayaking down the river when the animal caught him by surprise.
Di Martino recalled the sighting in an email to Gizmodo, saying, “We grabbed the cell phone and started filming it, when he poked his body out of the water and showed the unmistakable white bib, we had no doubts, it was a giant river otter.”
“We could not believe it, the record is incredible and how that specimen got here raises thousands of questions,” said Di Martino. Giant river otters hadn’t been spotted in this particular river in over 100 years.
A Giant River Otter seen in El Impenetrable National Park!
The @RewildingArg team spotted this otter, considered extinct in Argentina, in the Bermejo River, #Chaco Province. This great news brings new urgency to expand the Park to protect this species! #rewildingtheamericas pic.twitter.com/WT46vz39Wy
— Tompkins Conservation Global (@TompkinsRewild) May 24, 2021
Giant river otters weigh up to 75 pounds and can reach six feet in length. The formidable freshwater predators are now endangered and are found only in certain areas of South America. Listen to extraordinary encounters and interviews featuring otters on our latest episode of the Roaring Earth Podcast.