Geographical Range of the Marine Otter

Distribution of Lontra felina
This is from material supplied by Dr Gonzalo Medina Vgel (Pers. Comm. 2001), and from the World Wildlife Fund.

In the past, this species ranged from Northern Peru, (maybe even into Ecuador), down the west coast of Chile, throughout the islands of the Straits of Magellan, Tierra del Fuego, right down to Cape Horn and Staten Island (Isla de los Estados), which made them the most Southerly-ranging of all otters. They never exploited the Atlantic coasts very much due to lack of suitable habitat - the beaches there are sandy.

Today, although their overall range has apparently not reduced very much (they are no longer found north of 6S), the populations are very small, and very isolated.

In Peru, there are a few nuclei south from Chimbote, which seem relatively stable.

In northern Chile, the animals are very rare - they are found near Chanaral, Caldera and Coquimbo. In central Chile, they are slightly more numerous, being centred at Valparaiso (the type locality) and Quintay. The largest populations are from Chiloe Island southward along the coasts and islands down to Cape Horn (though between 49 and 53S only about 10% of the coasts are suitable habitat).

In Argentina, there are tiny remnant populations down the east coast of Tierra del Fuego and Staten Island.

This species was introduced to the Falkland Islands in the 1930s when there was an unsuccessful attempt to raise them for fur. Although rare, there have been several sightings of them and their spraint, most recently by Edwards (1999) .

Marine Otter