Tarka’s mother cleverly entices her cubs into the water, first by putting the food she has caught close to the water, then teaching them to hunt for themselves by various feints and incentives.
Water is their element but there is a momentary fear when they first venture in, which Williamson portrays as an atavistic recollection of a time when otters were landlubbers.
‘The first otter to go into deep water had felt the same fear that Tarka felt that night; for his ancestors, thousands of years ago, had been hunters in woods and along the banks of rivers.’
Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers, illus. C.F. Tunnicliffe (Harmondsworth: Puffin Books, 1976 (1927)), p. 31
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