Life Abounds Along Rhode Island’s Rivers and Coves

Laptew Chronicles
Rhode Island’s Web of Life

Part 1

River Otter

River otters can live 10 to 20 years.  These three and half to four foot long mammals depend on clean water and a healthy supply of fish, frogs, snakes, mice, birds, crayfish and mussels. 

otter swims along surface of the pond
The river otter is a long, sleek, muscular animal

North Kingstown otter in Annaquatucket River
When otters dive their ears and nose close

River otters digest and metabolize food so quickly that food passes through their intestines within an hour.

The web feet and slim profile allow otters to fly through the water

The web feet and slim profile allow otters to fly through the water

Click to enlarge any of these images

Snowy Egret

The snowy egret stalks the marshes, coves and rivers for small bait fish such as mummichog, spearing, sand eel or sand lance

egret charges mummichog

Snowy egret charges a school of mummichogs

egret strikes

The egret strikes with lightning speed

egret strikes at mummichog

The snowy seizes the mummi behind the gills

snowy egret squeezes a mummichog with its powerful bill

A good squeeze and a shake and the mummi is about to be eaten


Snowy egret gulps down a fat little mummichog

Snowy egret gulps down a fat little mummichog


These semi-aquatic rodents feed primarily on aquatic plants and they can be found in slow-moving-streams, coastal and freshwater marshes, lakes, ponds and swamps.

muskrat swimming to shore

A muskrat swims toward the shoreline

A muskrat heads to a feeding station with a mouthful of weeds
With a mouthful of weeds the muskrat heads for its den

They are prodigious and can  produce up to 3 litters per year, each with 6 to 7 young.  Breeding takes place from late March through July.


Osprey – The Fish Hawk

When the ospreys return to Rhode Island they start tidying up their nests with sticks and grass.  Osprey mate for life and return to the same nest year after year.

An osprey bringing marsh grass to nest

Osprey building nest with marsh grass and twigs

An osprey carries a load of nesting material

A full load of nesting material


An osprey hold a herring in its talons

Osprey grasps herring in its talons

River Herring

Alewives and blueback herring  have an enormous impact on the environment and they are a vital component to the food chain.

A group of volunteers help the Rhode Island Dept. of Fish of Wildlife scoop out and transport herring to an aerated truck.  These herring will be transferred to the Pawcatuck watershed where they will fortify 1300 acres and 8 stream miles.
A group of volunteers help fish and wildlife scoop herring

Herring Heroes scoop and transport fish

River herring stack up in a shallow pool

River herring stack up in a shallow pool

Herring transport truck

Worker dumps herring into transport truck

Check back for Rhode Island’s Web of Life – Part 2