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Simon Interviews an Otter


We’re here today with Oli the Otter, one of the last remaining English-speaking otters in the Pacific Ocean. The warming oceans have brought a tidal wave of Spanish speaking sea-life; their influence runs deep,  and otters like Oli have become rarer than pearled oysters. But enough of all that…

ME: So Oli, tell us, how does an otter get a name like Oli?

OLI: I don’t know, I’m an otter, our brains are small. Oli kind of sounds like otter, and I guess that’s about as far as my parents could take it. Sorry, that answer was a bit curt – I’m new to this interview thing.

ME: That’s alright, I’m new to it too. So Oli, and stop me if this is a sore subject, but how’s it been around here with the…the…big colorless fish.

OLI: You mean the Great White Shark? It’s okay, I don’t mind talking about it. I mean it’s tough obviously; we all have friends, relatives even….[he trails off and turns away]. But we’re getting smart. We got this new thing where we swim towards the surfers legs and then duck away at the last instant. The stupid fish can’t tell the difference and usually takes a big chomp out of the leg, leaving us to swim away scot-free. It’s working wonders; at least for now.  But you know, we’re just small fries. it’s the seals that really gotta worry, man, they’re watching their backs 24/7. It’s like Boys n’ the Hood for them.

ME: Sounds rough. But on a lighter note, you guys have been called the ‘cutest mammal in the ocean’. What do you make of that?

OLI: Ya, I heard that somewhere. As flattering as it is, to be honest with you, I’m not sure we deserve the title. After all, we’re only part-time ocean goers. What about the bottlenose dolphin? Or the Orca? Those guys are doing the ocean thing day in day out, grinding it. They at least deserve a look. And if you are going to include the semi-aquatic, how do you leave out the polar bear? Seriously, even I want to snuggle with that mass of carnivorous fluffy cloud. And they’ll eat my ass raw!

ME: Your humility is charming Oli. So aside from appearance, it looks like you guys are really having a good time out there, playing around and all. Tell us, what’s it like being an otter?

OLI: Well, you know I can’t speak for everyone, but when I’m twirling my way through a wave, or darting amongst kelp forests, man, I feel so alive!  And I hate to say it, but when I watch you humans flopping around like fish out of water, man I gotta laugh. I guess it’s a bit of schadenfreude, but hey, when I think back to our “history” together,  I can’t feel too bad about it.

[Oli gestures quotation marks on the word “history”; well, tries to anyway. Otters don’t really have fingers, so it’s hard.  Sure they have paws, but their stubiness restricts the precise movement necessary for making a quotations gesture. It’s sad to see this poor otter struggle so, but I know that behind the word “history” are struggles that far outweigh anything he faces today. Only the 1911 Fur Seal Treaty prevented the complete extermination of his species. And yet, as Oli picks up a shell and  effortlessly twirls it between those very same paws, I am stunned by his dexterity, dexterity that represents my hope for his future.  This creature, at once pitiful and proficient, the savant of the sea, thrives anew.]

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  1. Lala
    January 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    WOW! I’ve always wondered about the secret life of otters. When do you have time to conduct such hard hitting investigative interviews? Kudos, Mr. Dunne.

  2. Peter c
    January 28, 2011 at 4:00 am

    Howdy ex room mate. Tried to call you the other day but your number was changed. Give me an email at peterchunker@yahoo.com. Cheers

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