Fascinating Wisconsin River Otters: Tips for shooting with Sony A7C and Sony 200-600mm lens

Wisconsin River Otters: A Fascinating and Important Part of the State’s Wildlife

The Wisconsin River is home to a variety of wildlife, including the majestic and playful river otter. These semi-aquatic creatures are a sight to behold, with their sleek bodies, webbed feet, and sharp claws. River otters are important members of the ecosystem, playing a vital role in keeping the river healthy and thriving.

Physical Characteristics

The river otter is a medium-sized mammal, measuring up to four feet in length, including its tail. They can weigh up to 30 pounds, with males being slightly larger than females. River otters have a dark brown fur coat that is short, dense, and waterproof, allowing them to stay warm and dry even in the coldest waters.

Habitat and Range

River otters can be found throughout Wisconsin, but they are most commonly found in the northern and central parts of the state. They prefer to live in areas with clear, clean water and plenty of vegetation, such as marshes, swamps, and streams. River otters are also found in lakes and rivers, where they can often be seen swimming and playing.

Diet and Behavior

River otters are carnivorous, feeding primarily on fish, but also consuming crayfish, frogs, and other small aquatic creatures. They are skilled hunters, using their sharp teeth and claws to catch their prey. They are also social animals, living in family groups that include a mother and her young. River otters are known for their playful behavior, sliding down muddy banks and swimming with each other.

Importance to the Ecosystem

River otters play a crucial role in the ecosystem of the Wisconsin River. As top predators, they help regulate the population of fish and other aquatic creatures, preventing overpopulation and ensuring a healthy balance of species. They also help keep the river clean by feeding on dead fish and other debris, preventing it from accumulating and polluting the water.

Conservation Efforts

River otters were once in danger of extinction due to hunting and habitat loss, but conservation efforts have helped their population rebound. In 2006, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reintroduced river otters to areas of the state where they had been previously extirpated. The population has since grown, and river otters are now thriving in many parts of Wisconsin.

Best Camera Settings to Use to Capture River Otters

When using a Sony camera with a Sony 200-600mm lens to capture images of Wisconsin River Otters, there are a few camera settings that can help you achieve the best results:

  1. Shutter speed: Set your shutter speed to at least 1/1000th of a second to freeze the motion of the otters as they move quickly in and out of the water.
  2. Aperture: To achieve a shallow depth of field and blur the background, use a wide aperture, such as f/4 or f/5.6.
  3. ISO: Depending on the lighting conditions, you may need to adjust your ISO to achieve a proper exposure. Try to keep it as low as possible to minimize noise in your images.
  4. Autofocus: Use continuous autofocus (AF-C) to track the movement of the otters as they swim and play in the water.
  5. Image stabilization: With the long focal length of the 200-600mm lens, image stabilization is crucial to keep your shots steady. Make sure that your lens and camera are set to their highest image stabilization mode.
  6. Shooting mode: Consider using burst mode (continuous shooting) to capture multiple images in a short period of time, allowing you to choose the best shot later on.
  7. White balance: Set your white balance to match the lighting conditions in which you are shooting to ensure accurate colors in your images.

By using these camera settings, you can increase your chances of capturing stunning images of Wisconsin River Otters in action. However, keep in mind that the best results often come from patience, persistence, and careful observation of your subjects’ behavior.


The Wisconsin River otter is a fascinating and important part of the state’s wildlife. With their playful behavior, sleek bodies, and vital role in the ecosystem, they are a true treasure. As more people become aware of the importance of these creatures, conservation efforts can continue to ensure their survival for generations to come.