That viral photo of otters crashing a marriage proposal in Singapore almost never happened

While the couple were getting their picture taken, a pack of otters came ashore and started sniffing them and squeaking.
Facebook/Bernard Photojournals
  • A otter-loving couple got engaged in Singapore during a five-day holiday to the country.

  • They had hoped to see wild otters living in the city with the help of a local photographer.

  • While the man was on one knee, a pack of otters rushed up to the couple to witness the moment.

An adorable photo of a group of otters watching a proposal take place in Singapore’s Marina Reservoir is making the rounds online and melting people’s hearts.

But the shot could very well have never happened, thanks to a fever and a thunderstorm.

Otter-spotting was a highlight for British citizens Jordan Doyle and Mary Lister’s five-day trip to Singapore, Doyle told Business Insider. 

Doyle, 28, who works in the government, and Lister, 26, an artist and YouTuber, are travelling the world on a gap year from work. The couple love otters and make it a point to see them whenever they go to zoos.

They found out about Singapore’s famous otter families – including one which lives in the Marina area – after watching a segment on the documentary Planet Earth II on wildlife in cities.

Doyle contacted photographer Bernard Seah in October after seeing his photos posted on Facebook group Ottercity.

Seah, who has been photographing wild otters since 2012, agreed to bring the couple to see the critters on Tuesday (Nov 20) – also the date of the couple’s two-year relationship anniversary.

However, Doyle woke up sporting a fever, and predictions of a thunderstorm dampened the couple’s spirits.

“Initially, we didn’t want to go. I felt ill. We weren’t really expecting to see any otters. But we decided ‘screw it’, and went anyway,” Doyle said.

They arrived at Marina Reservoir at about 7.30am and spent the next two hours searching for the animals, which are believed to be from an family of 10 otters nicknamed by fans as the Bishan 10.

What Lister didn’t know was that Doyle had brought a engagement ring with him, which he bought in August with the intention to propose in New Zealand – the last stop on their trip.

But as the group spotted some otters swimming nearby, Doyle decided it was the perfect moment.

Lister said yes.

Seah then offered to take their picture, and suggested the couple re-enact the proposal closer to the water in hopes of capturing some otters in the background, he told Business Insider.

As they were posing, several otters “rushed” ashore and “ran towards (the couple) all of a sudden”, Doyle said. The animals squeaked, sniffed at their shoes, and rolled in the sand.

Said Seah: “Otters are one of the most curious animals you can find. Because Jordan and Mary were posing motionless for me, the otters probably wondered what the two ‘statues’ were and came out of the water to investigate.”

“What I saw through my lens was priceless. I was telling myself: What a dream shot! The chance of a lifetime!” he added.

He asked the couple not to move so as not to scare off the otters. While surrounded, Doyle delivered the proposal speech he had initially prepared – as he was too nervous earlier to remember it. The whole episode lasted about three minutes.

“It was incredible the way the otters were sitting and standing – almost like they were witnessing what was going on,” he added.

“Mary was in heaven. After the photo, she kept saying: ‘I feel like this is a dream. This just doesn’t feel real!’ It was so special, because while we’ve seen otters around the world, they were in enclosures. The otters that came to us were wild, so the feeling was totally different.”

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