An award-winning Shetland photographer has released a series of images which show the daily battle faced by the islands’ wildlife.
Richard Shucksmith, of Skellister, has spent the last three years documenting the plight faced by otters native to the area.
Otters are faced with a shortage of food and often resort to killing unusual prey such as puffins and octopus in order to stay alive.
Mr Shucksmith’s photographs also show the often brutal nature of otters, as they fight among themselves for scant food ahead of the winter months.
During these months, it is not uncommon for cubs to perish as their normal food, fish, migrate to deeper water.
Last month, staff at the Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary had to rescue two orphaned otter cubs, just 10 weeks old, from two locations in the mainland Shetland village of Vidlin.
The pair of baby brothers, named Joey and Thea, were suffering from cold and lack of food.
Originally from Lincoln, Mr Shucksmith is also an ecologist, and studied at the Scottish Association for Marine Science at Dunstaffnage, near Oban, where he researched the impact on marine communities of invasion by non-native species.
Back in 2011, he was a recipient of the top prize at the British Wildlife Photography Awards, for a shot taken at the remote island of Sula Sgeir, which is 41 miles north of Lewis and home to a wide array of marine life.
Much of Mr Shucksmith’s photographic study of otters is tracked on his website, where he has blogged about his activities for the past three years.
He often spends hours watching the creatures, and admits to having an “otter obsession”.
Mr Shucksmith also offers wildlife photography workshops on the islands, and earlier this year held a Focus on Otters event.
To find out more about Mr Shucksmith’s research and to view more of his wildlife photography, visit www.ecologicalphotography.co.uk