6:33 AM PDT, May 29, 2021
A conservation expert in Argentina made the discovery of a lifetime when he happened to come upon a giant river otter, an animal thought to be extinct in the country after having not been seen there since the 1980s, according to reports.
Sebastián Di Martino, the director of conservation at Rewilding Argentina, was kayaking on the Bermejo River in Impenetrable National Park when the animal popped out of the water next to him, he told the Guardian.
“It reared up, so its white chest was visible, which I recognized as the giant river otter,” Di Martino told the Guardian. “At this point, your legs go weak and your heart starts beating faster.”
Great river otters hadn’t been spotted on the Bermejo River in more than 100 years, but the river is connected to the Paraguayan Pantanal, so experts believe it swam to the area.
Di Martino told the Guardian the otter is likely to be part of a family group that has gone undetected, and so was believed to have gone completely extinct in the country. Giant river otters are a top predator within its ecosystem, able to grow up to 4.5-feet long and weigh up to 75 pounds, while also known to be at times charismatic, trusting and curious,
Di Martino coincidentally is working on a conservation plan to reintroduce giant river otters to Argentina, specifically to the very place in which he made this ground-breaking discovery.