Forsa, the otter cub, released

Last September, you may remember, MOG received a call about a poorly otter cub near the Forsa river on the Isle of Mull. Sue and Darren Morley responded to the call, and luckily the story ended happily with the female cub, now named Forsa, recovering from her ordeal and finishing her rehabilitation at the SSPCA near Stirling.

Forsa, the Otter Cub

This is Forsa, the otter cub, just after being rescued. Read the amazing tell of Dog Rescues Otter!

When an otter is being looked after during their ‘cubhood’ they often do better if they are joined by a friend. So, it wasn’t long before the SSPCA introduced Forsa to her new friend, Kessock, who came from the mainland. They have been together in their comfortable enclosure at the SSPCA ever since.

Almost a year later, and the time came for the two to be released. The SSPCA work hard to keep the otters in their care wild, and not habituated to humans. When it comes to a release site there are certain criteria to meet: it must be safe (away from roads) yet accessible (to minimise stress to the otters as they are carried to their new home), and there must be evidence of good food supplies. There must also be no other otters present due to the risk of competition escalating into fights. Otters are territorial.

When otters are reared together, they are released together. This eases their transition to a wild life, as they keep the companionship of their friend during a difficult period, and they can learn from each other as they adapt to their new home. This leads to another consideration for the release site. Kessock was from an inland freshwater area. Forsa was from the coast. Colin Seddon from the SSPCA tells us that although the same species, coastal otters have a tougher time, and tend to be bigger. Hence it was thought best if Kessock was returned to a freshwater area along with Forsa.

The site chosen was in the borders. They were released recently, and are thriving. You can enjoy the pictures of them being released below. Thanks to Colin Seddon and his team for all of their hard work, and thanks for the lovely pictures. Good luck to Forsa and Kessock.

Otter Cub Rescue

Last week we received a call from a report of a very poorly otter cub at Aros loch.
We expect to receive a couple of calls like this a year, and are happy to provide all possible care and attention to any otter who needs help.
Our efforts are often worthwhile, and result in a successful outcome. Since our formation in 2013 we have rescued 4 otter cubs which have been transferred for rehabilitation at either IOSF on Skye, or the SSPCA near Stirling. Of those, two have successfully gone back to the wild, one is still with the SSPCA, and one unfortunately succumbed to its initial trauma.
In addition we have responded to other calls about young otters who potentially needed help, but after observation no action was deemed necessary. But we don’t regard this as a waste of time, we would much prefer people to err on the side of caution and report their concerns.
Last week, Sue Morley rushed to Aros to help the otter cub, which was close to death. Unfortunately on this occasion the story did not have a happy ending, as the cub died soon afterwards. There is nothing that could have been done. It is likely that the cub became separated from its mother and succumbed to cold and dehydration.
Many thanks to Sue, and the lady who reported it.

To report otters in distress or dead otters please phone Sue (North Mull) 07968 438525 or Nigel (South Mull) 07900 918857 or if that fails for any reason SSPCA 03000 999 999. Please don’t handle otters yourself, they are legally protected and even the small ones have teeth.

Otter just after release

To end on a happy note, here is a picture of Gribun the otter cub, being released in 2017 on Mull, after being cared for and reared to adulthood by the SSPCA. What would Gribun have been thinking we wonder during that very first sprint to the sea?

Say No to Kelp Dredging

Update on the below story. Thankfully the Scottish Government voted to stop kelp dredging on Crown Estate property on the 21st November.

There is something quick that you can do today to help otters and other marine life and it won’t cost you a penny!

We have just a few days left before the Scottish Parliament consider a proposal by Mark Ruskell MSP to stop kelp dredging.  Write to your MSP before the 21st November 2018 and ask them to support Mark Ruskell’s proposal.

The email addresses for the MSPs for the Mull area are:,,,,,,

A mechanical kelp dredger

It seems unbelievable that a company called Marine Biopolymers would like a license to mechanically pull up kelp from the roots across the entire west coast of Scotland.  That’s worth repeating – pull it up from the roots – so that the ecosystem disappears and will not recover for years.  Just look at the below map showing the areas being considered.

Otters are at the top of a fragile food chain that is highly dependent on kelp. It is where they find their food. All of the other creatures large and small would also be impacted with knock on impacts to the fishing industry and tourism. There will be fewer lobsters to catch for example, and probably less marine wildlife like otters, dolphins, porpoise, and sea birds for locals and tourists to enjoy.

Otter in Kelp
Painting by Susan Berry

Marine Biopolymers want to rip up the kelp and extract the chemicals from it for products like cosmetics. This would benefit one large company.  The economic benefit will not last long because the kelp will not recover fast nough.

Demand for seaweed is rising. There is potential for economic development in a much more sustainable way which could create lots of small businesses all over the west coast thereby benefiting lots of communities. Products that can be made range from skin care to seaweed popcorn!  Seaweed can be farmed, and harvested without pulling the stalk up from the roots. This is what the Scottish government should be supporting.

The proposal to stop kelp dredging has now reached “stage 3” and will be considered by the whole Scottish parliament on the 21st November.   More can be learned about the political process so far here.

Make sure that you also sign the on line petition.

Keep up to date on the issue on the No Kelp Dredging Facebook page.

Some news stories on the issue can be found below:

ITV NEWS: Sir David Attenborough demands MSPs protect ‘globally important’ kelp beds

The Guardian: Kelp dredging proposal criticised by Scottish conservationists

Forsa, the otter cub …. the untold story

If you are an avid follower of Mull Otter Group, then you will know that we rescued a cub in a very poor condition back in September.

Sue and Darren Morley brought her back from the brink with rehydration fluids and puppy milk, and after a few days she was ready to hand over to the SSPCA on the mainland.

Luckily, Forsa responded well and is now looking healthy.

You what? Dog rescues otter!?

What we didn’t fully understand straight away was the crucial role a lovely dog called Isla played in Forsa’s rescue.   It was two days after storm Ali and the Forsa river had been in full spate, and had burst its banks.  Isla was out for a walk with her human in the riverside woodland. Her owner was very perplexed when Isla returned from a little excursion and gently dropped an almost lifeless otter cub on the ground. Mull Otter Group was promptly called and Sue and Darren responded to the call, and we now know the happy outcome.

We came to realise that Forsa had been in a poor condition for quite a while and would have surely perished had Isla not picked her up.  We think that she may have separated from her mum in the strong flood waters.  It is heart warming to know that Isla was so gentle that Forsa sustained no injury.  Well done Isla!  The wonder of animals!

Isla, the wonder dog

Here are the latest photos of Forsa who is doing very well at the SSPCA.

And as a special treat here is the latest video of Forsa, who took no time at all learning to swim.

Forsa, the otter, having a swim

Forsa, the otter, having a swim. Under the loving care of the Scottish SPCA.

Gepostet von Mull Otter Group am Samstag, 10. November 2018

Otter Cub Rescue

Mull Otter Group received a call yesterday about an otter cub at Glenforsa.  The cub had not moved for some time and was not very responsive so the decision was taken to look after it. This is always a carefully considered decision – it would be all too easy to interfere in a situation where the mother otter could return.

It is currently being looked after by Sue Morley with milk and rehydration fluids. It is in a weak condition but hopefully it will survive and be transferred to a proper rehabilitiation facility.

Many thanks to Sue for her hard work and to the person who reported it.

Fingers and toes crossed for this poor wee thing.

Rescued Otter Cub Rescued Otter Cub Rescued Otter Cub


Nature Trails and Beach Cleans

What a busy day MOG had yesterday.

First we joined Lochdonhead Primary school at their nature trail. A great opportunity for a photo at the otter sculpture and otter information board.

The children from Lochdonhead School
The children from Lochdonhead School

The children from Lochdonhead school along with Mrs Carmichael, and Mrs Grierson, and from MOG, Marie Fox and Nigel Burch, and of course Loki the spaniel

Then it was over to Lochbuie for the Great British Beach Clean, where the children helped us survey a 100m stretch of beach. To begin with it was raining, which was not in the forecast!  How were we going to get out the paper forms for the survey?  Luckily the rain stopped and we could get the job done.

Along with the other volunteers that went to Laggan, we collected 18 bags worth of plastic rubbish. Thanks to the council for agreeing to pick up the rubbish. Sadly this is an ongoing job, as it won’t be long before more washes in. But there is hope that the next generation can change things for the better!

Thank you to Lochonhead School and the other volunteers for your hard work.

Wave your litter pickers in the air. The children of Lochdonhead school at the Great British Beach Clean
Wave your litter pickers in the air. The children of Lochdonhead school at the Great British Beach Clean

World Otter Day 2018

Otter Fun at Bunessan Primary

Children with painted otter faces
Otter faces at Bunessan Primary

Bunessan Primary School on the Isle of Mull celebrated World Otter Day on 31st May.  Mull Otter Group Committee organised a day packed with otter-filled activities.

Children in P5,6 and 7, helped by Val Leckie, made beautifully observed drawings of Eddie the Otter. In Marie Fox’s hands, their Maths lesson became a practical approach to collecting data and a discussion about wildlife groups’ collection of statistics. Mull Youth Theatre’s Andi Stevens’ lively drama session created acrostic poems with words and movements. How do you differentiate mink and otters? Mull Otter Group’s Nigel Burch and local Ranger Emily Wilkins taught them how.

The younger ones had a busy day, too. Anna Mockford, ably assisted by Georgia, transformed them into otters with facepaints. Local artist Julie Ward helped them make clay model otters and Jane Putsey showed them how to make otter prints. Sue Morley helped them explore and understand an otter skeleton.

Others enjoyed Sue Penny’s telling of the travels of the Utterly Otterlys. Nigel Burch taught them how to spot otter signs in a specially created otter trail. What do you do if you find a sick or injured otter? Jane Stevens, Chair of Mull Otter Group, explained: then everyone had fun working in the Otter Rescue Centre.

Jan Sutch Pickard and her granddaughter Katie gathered the children’s ideas to make a lively poem: A Romp of Otters.

Photo Competition: Winner Announced!

Congratulations to the winner of our photo competition, Neill Binns.  One of our fantastic new “Otter Spotter” mugs, featuring original artwork by local artist Janet Schofield, is on its way to you.

It was very tricky to pick a winner from all the stunning entries, but we are sure you will agree that this relaxed and intimate portrait of an otter is simply excellent. Well done to Neill.

The winning entry:

Eurasian Otter
Photo by Neill Binns


Many thanks to all who entered. We really enjoyed seeing your otter photos. The standard was very high.

Mega Beach Clean!

Mull Otter Group had a very exhausting day on Sunday 15th April.

We trekked to the area just before MacKinnon’s Cave on the west coast of the Isle of Mull and gathered up years of plastic debris that had been washed in from the sea.

We created a monstrous pile of rubbish which received a big thumbs down from two of our volunteers, Emily and Lottie.

Plastic Marine Litter
A big thumbs down for plastic. Photo by Darren Morley


The next task is for the rubbish to be taken away by boat with the help of Turus Mara.

Pile of rubbish at MacKinnon's Cave
The pile of rubbish at MacKinnon’s Cave. Photo by Darren Morley.

A big thank you to all of our volunteers and the unsuspecting hikers who were also roped in!

Find out more about Mull Adopt-a-Beach.   Consider joining us on a beach clean or adopting a stretch of Mull coast near you.

More Roadside Reflectors to Help Otters

MOG had a very busy day on Sunday installing more roadside reflectors near Garmony, and at Inverlussa. The hope is that at night time otters will see the reflection of car headlights and be deterred from crossing the road until the car passes.
We also found time to properly install our otter sculpture at the Lochdonhead School nature trail. Many thanks to all who helped and for the nice cakes.

Otter Sculpture at Lochdonhead Nature Trail
Otter Sculpture at Lochdonhead Nature Trail


Otter Sculpture at Lochdonhead Nature Trail
Otter Sculpture Installation at Lochdonhead Nature Trail

Reflector installation at Garmony
Reflector installation at Garmony

Installation of roadside reflectors at Inverlussa
Reflectors at Inverlussa