Otters or Kushtakas

L1210482In season, this trail along the lower reaches of the Mendenhall River draws waterfowl, eagles, and ravens. Aki and I have watched seals hunting ducks on the river waters, seen large choreographies of eagles fly over the mud bars, been intimidated by ravens holding a convention in the shoreline trees. Today only an immature bald eagle greets us with a fly over.  Gaps in its wing feathers make me wonder how it manages to fly.

L1210507Rounding a rocky point we see a flat triangle of beach, empty except for something splashing in a nearby section of the river. I fasten a lead to Aki’s collar and move close enough to watch a gang of three river otters pulling onto the beach.  Each chomps on a sculpin—the bony bottom fish known locally as a double ugly.”  Nearsighted, Aki only detects their motion.  The otters know we are here. One looks right at me each time he finishes a fish.

L1210525After ten minutes I lead Aki down the beach. When the otter gang moves into the river I take Aki off lead. The little poodle mix trots over to check out the otters’ lunch spot. They swim close, making a friendly sounding noise with their noses. This draws Aki into the water. I think Kushtaka. the sea otter like creatures of the indigenous Tlingit’s World. They lure people into the water for capture. But Kushtakas don’t like dogs so these guys are probably otters, still able to drown my little dog if it pleased them.  Aki answers my summons before we find out if they are friend or foe. L1210586

4 thoughts on “Otters or Kushtakas

  1. Edward KARLSON

    Have you ever experienced the presence of kushtaka? I Edward KARLSON have and it was a very OVERWHELMING Encounter!!! I even Explained that encounter to A Close Friend and dam if the SAME OCURRANCES didnt happen. AGAIN!!! As i explained!!!

    1. Dan Branch Post author

      I am not sure if I have. Once, when returning from a spring kayak trip, I saw an animal that looked like an oversized otter near the tip of a sand bar. The tide was flooding through the narrow pass between the bar and the shoreline. I took my eye off the channel to watch the animal dive into the water just in the front of my kayak. Just then, a small whirlpool grabbed the nose of the kayak. I managed to right the boat and pass safely though he channel. I don’t know if it was a kushtaka but I felt lucky to have gotten through.

      1. Edward KARLSON

        It thundered through the woods towards me and. US LIKE 100 bears as.1. And I am TLINGIT

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