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Go With The Flow
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One of the most enigmatic of Canadian mammals, the North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is well equipped for its aquatic habits. A fully streamlined, torpedo-like body shape, including tiny ears, tapered tail, and webbed feet, are some of the obvious features of these adept swimmers.

It doesn't end there, however. A thick, velvety coat repels water with the aid of oils secreted from glands in the skin. Meticulous grooming is necessary to ensure these oils are spread through the fur for increased effectiveness at gliding through water. Valve-like flaps on the inner ears and nostrils help keep water out when diving. They also have a nictitating membrane, or third eyelid, which covers the eye when underwater. Physiologically, otters have other adaptations going for them. Lowering their heart rate from 170 beats a minute to 20 beats a minute underwater helps to sustain oxygen levels. Reduced lung lobes and a short trachea also play a role in oxygen conservation.

A fur bearing animal flowing freely through waters, the otter has long been a symbol of change and transition in Native cultures. The otter spirit is often called upon during significant events such as childbirth, marriage and death in some tribes. Their playful, relaxed ways remind us all that life is a journey - sometimes you need to just go with the flow.