An unusually friendly otter has been putting a smile on the faces of Oban residents during the latest period of lockdown.
The popular creature has been creating such a stir that a local mental health support group has launched a competition to give him a name.
While passersby have been enjoying socially distanced walks along the Esplanade, between the war memorial and Ganavan beach, the dog otter has been creating a spectacle for everyone to enjoy by feeding and frolicking along the shoreline.
The animal has become a major talking point for local professional and amateur photographers, but it is the youngsters of the town who have really taken him into their hearts.
Robert Cruikshanks, a founding member of the Martyn’s Monday Club suicide prevention group, described its effect in lifting people’s mood.
He said: “During lockdown so many people have been out walking and the otter has become quite a talking point, especially with the local kids.
“A local photographer suggested it would be good to have a competition to name the otter. We have had quite a few responses.
“The kids have been dragging their parents out to to go and look for the otter. It is generally being spotted between the pontoons, the war memorial and Dunollie Castle.
“It is definitely drawing a bit of a crowd but, in all honesty, people have been really respectful of it and are giving it distance – as opposed to climbing down onto the beach and behaving irresponsibly.
“It is getting people out of the house and lifting their moods. We want to encourage kids to be interested in wildlife and nature plays a big part in our mental health.”
Oban photographer Kevin McGlynn added: “The kids have been out and about in the fresh air, they go looking for the otter and it’s good for their wellbeing. It’s good for the parents’ wellbeing too.
“People are posting pictures on Facebook of it every day, and it means that even people who are shielding, and can’t get out and about to see it for themselves, aren’t being left out.”
Des MacMillan, Martyn’s Monday Club co-ordinator, said: “There has been a lot of interest in the otter. The competition to name him is just to make the kids feel good.
“We have had about 50 entries and we will pick a winner on Sunday.
“We will provide a goodie bag as a prize and photographer Kevin McGlynn is donating some vouchers.”
Martyn’s Monday Club is an Oban-based suicide awareness and prevention support group.
Meetings take place at the club premises in Breadalbane Street for men on Mondays and women on Tuesdays, between 7-9pm.
Everyone aged under 16 is being invited to take part in the competition to name the otter.
Entrants are asked to contact the club suggesting a name, and describing the benefits of going outside and interacting with nature.
People can enter by contacting Martyn’s Monday Club on social media or emailing email@example.com