Otters: What makes these river creatures so fascinating - Cheltenham Science Festival invitation for Swansea expert ecologist

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Sunbathing, playing, and catching fish sounds like an easy life for otters, but there’s more than meets the eye to these treasured inhabitants of Britain’s waterways.

OttersEcologist and otter expert Dr Dan Forman, of Swansea University’s Department of Biosciences, has been invited to talk about what makes these river creatures so fascinating as part of this week's The Times Cheltenham Science Festival.

The Otters (S091) event will take place from 6:30pm until 7:30pm on Friday, June 5, in Cheltenham’s Winton Crucible‌.

The 1950s and 60s almost spelled the end for otters in the UK after significant and widespread population declines, but recent years have seen them swimming back into Britain.  

Dr Dan FormanDr Forman (pictured), a senior lecturer in Biosciences and leader of the Coastal Otter Project within the Swansea Ecology Research Team (SERT), said: “The otter is one of Britain’s most iconic animals, much famed for their mastery of water and fishing ability.  The species has made a remarkable recovery in recent years and can now be found on many rivers and lakes in Britain.

“The otter is a highly adaptable mammal able to exploit a wide range of habitats including coastal locations.  Our present knowledge of how important or extensive otter coastal activity might be in Britain is currently limited.

“But through the Coastal Otter Project, we aim to survey and gather information to begin to understand how important coastal areas such as sandy beaches, dunes, docks, salt marshes, estuaries and rocky shorelines might be for otters.”

Speaking about what he will focus on for the audience at the Cheltenham Science Festival Otters event, Dr Forman said: “My talk will provide new insights into the hidden lives of these remarkable and highly complex animals, as well as explaining how and why we study otters.”

The University is again a Major Supporter of the UK’s largest and most prestigious science festival, which runs from Tuesday, June 2 until Sunday, June 7.

For full details of the Festival’s full programme and ticketing information, visit

Otters duo image: Charis White.