My closest encounter with an otter was when a Sea Otter jumped aboard my kayak in Monterey Bay. And lounged across the bow for several minutes! When I first saw River Otters swimming in the Puget Sound, their snouts seemed quite long in comparison, and I noticed they were always alone. Then groups of five or six crossed my path, and three times now I've felt incredibly lucky to watch a playful group. It turns out that males are usually solitary, and groups are formed of a female and her offspring, kind of like Orca pods. North American River Otters live in the Pacific Northwest, on the East Coast of the US, and across most of Canada. Like crows, they have adapted to marine life here, and yet they're not considered marine mammals because they also thrive in fresh and brackish water and can travel over land. River Otters are fairly common in all kinds of waters in Washington State, from lakes and rivers to bays and estuaries. Their even cuter and larger flat-faced cousins, Sea Otters, can only be found along the Pacific Coast. When I finally get a kayak here in Port Townsend, I hope to give a River Otter a ride!