lontra felina


The marine otter (Lontra felina) aka Chungungo is a poorly known South American mammal of the weasel family (Mustelidae) and the smallest of the New World otters. Found in Chile and Perú, its scientific name means “otter cat”, and in Spanish, the marine otter is also often referred to as gato marino: “marine cat”. The marine otter spends much of its time out of the water and rarely ventures into freshwater or estuarine habitats, unlike most other otter species.This species is listed as Endangered due to an inferred future population decline due to habitat loss and exploitation


Marine Otter (Lontra felina)

…a rare species of otter that occurs along the coast of western South America, from northern Peru to Cape Horn and Isla de Los Estados. Like its common name suggests L.felina spends most of its life out in the ocean, however it also inhabits freshwater and esturarine habitats as well unlike the Sea Otter (E.lutris). Like sea otters marine otters are nimble in the water and will dive for fish, cephalopods, crustaceans and molluscs. It will emerge from the sea to rocky islets to rest and eat, individuals will claim rocks and will defend them from other otters. Despite this, they are not territorial and they have even been seen fishing cooperatively.

Lontra felina is currently listed as endangered by the IUCN, and faces threats from hunting for its pelts and habitat loss. Its also threatened by water pollution and over-fishing of its prey species.



Images: jose_cañas_aves and Sakura1994

The rare and endangered Marine Otter (Lontra felina) spends its time along rocky shorelines in Peru, Chile and Argentina.  It is unlike the Sea Otter in that it spends much of its time out of the water and rarely enters freshwater habitat.  It is known locally as “chungungo”

This guy played in the surf for us for quite a long time, approaching us out of curiosity.  It was only after I showed my pictures to some of the locals and noticed their amazement that I had photographed “chungungo” that I realized what a rare treat it was.