This abundance of otters is one of the reasons why the Sunart area has been recognised as of European importance for conservation through designation as a candidate Special Area of Conservation.
The otters in Sunart are reliant on the good quality intertidal area and shallow sub-tidal area for the majority of their food – butterfish and crabs forming a significant part in their varied diet. Otters are also known to follow the burns inland to hill lochans, particularly to feed when frogs and toads congregate for their breeding season.
The otters also need access to fresh water burns or lochs to wash the sea salt from their fur. Without regular washing, the fur would lose its buoyancy and its insulative properties.
Male and female otters both hold separate territories; the male territory may encompass more than female territory. There is no specific breeding season for otters as their prey can generally be found year round.
If you sit quietly on the shore of Loch Sunart (or visit the Garbh Eilean wildlife hide) you may well be lucky enough to see an otter. However, otters are primarily nocturnal so the best chance of success will be at dawn or dusk – which in summer in the Highlands means around 4am or after 10pm!