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River otters characteristically approach within a few feet of a boat or a person on shore because they're near-sighted, a consequence of vision adapted for underwater sight.
River otters have transparent nictitating membranes to protect their eyes while swimming.
In some regions, though, their population is controlled to allow the trapping and harvesting of otters for their pelts.
River otters are very susceptible to the effects of environmental pollution, which is a likely factor in the continued decline of their numbers.
The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or the common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts.
An adult river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb).
The throat, chin, and lips are grayer than the rest of the body.
The range of the North American river otter has been significantly reduced by habitat loss, beginning with the European colonization of North America.
These analyses suggest they diverged in the Miocene epoch 23.03 to 5.33 million years ago (Mya), which is "much earlier" than indicated in the fossil record.
The New World river otters originated from the Old World river otters after a migration across the Bering Land Bridge, which existed off and on between 1.8 million and 10,000 years ago.
The rhinarium is bare, with an obtuse, triangular projection.
Eyes of the animal are small and placed anteriorly.