Although rarely seen in the wild, the otter is admired for its playful character and graceful aquatic agility, which were established in the popular imagination through books like Tarka the Otter and Ring of Bright Water. This, however, is just a very small part of their story?throughout history the otter has also been widely hunted for its fur and flesh. In Otter, human geographer Daniel Allen reveals how the animal?s identity has been shaped by this variety of human interactions.
As Allen explains, otters, while feared by some communities, were hunted to near extinction by others?killed for their valuable pelts in the north Pacific and chased with hounds for sport in Britain. In contrast, Allen describes how Native Americans revered the otter and how indigenous fishermen in parts of Asia trained otters to assist them. Sadly, now all thirteen species of otter are considered threatened, and their survival is by no means certain.
In this wide-ranging look at the otter, Allen incorporates anecdotes from folklore, sports, popular literature, media, and conservation studies in order to unravel this complicated cultural history. Otter is a lively book that offers a new way of thinking about this admired and endangered animal.