It has been a great year for me. It started off with me becoming a partner of the Year of the Salamander Campaign. The campaign was put together by Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC).
Throughout 2014 I have continually made efforts to educate people both on the conservation of salamanders and ways in which these amphibians can be helped.
Outreach education was one of the ways in which I raised awareness. Throughout the year I visited schools, parks, conservation areas, day camp programs and more! Some highlights include presentations for the North Bay Science Fair, the Quinte Conservation Area, Mac Johnson Wildlife Area, Durham Region Field Naturalists, and the One Earth One Chance Summit. I also gave weekly presentations from May-August at the Thousand Islands National Park. This series of events was dubbed Salamander Saturdays.
I also appeared several times on Television, giving educational segments on salamanders. I appeared on CKWS News, F.Y.I, and K-Town Source. Portions of my One Earth One Chance presentation was filmed and aired on Community Cruiser. I partook in a Telethon for the Leeds and Grenville OSPCA, which streamed live over the internet and on air at 103.7 BOB FM. I also gave several radio interviews throughout the year, that aired on stations across Ontario.
Furthermore I wrote articles on salamanders (or had articles written about my efforts to contribute to their preservation), appear in various newspapers and publications, including several papers across the country of Spain. I also wrote a couple articles for the Froglog, which is the publication of the Amphibian Survival Alliance. Information about my Save The Salamanders website was also included in the acknowledgement section of the book Spring Salamanders of Central Texas (2014 World Freedom Products, LLC).
Being out in nature and observing salamanders is one of my greatest passions. This year alone I encountered hundreds of these animals, across Canada and the United States. In Ontario I seen over a dozen Jefferson Salamanders (Ambystoma jeffersonianum), and two dozen Four-Toed Salamanders (Hemidactylium scutatum). The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada lists the Jefferson Salamander as Threatened, and considers the Four-Toed to be rare or at least rarely seen. I also encountered over 100 Mudpuppys (Necturus maculosus), Ontario’s largest salamander species. One of the most fascinating finds was a leucistic Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus). According to Joseph C. Mitchell and Jennifer Mazur, ”Northeastern Naturalist” Vol. 5, No. 4 (1998), Leucistic P. cinereus, (where the individuals lack pigment except for normally-colored eyes) are apparently rare. I also visited the southern portion of the Appalachian Mountains Region. More species of salamanders exist in the southern Appalachian Mountains than anywhere else in the world, and nowhere are they more abundant. This is why I set out to explore this locality and record observations. In just one day I seen over 50 salamanders, comprising many different species. Having the opportunity to see some of these Appalachian salamanders was a tremendous experience! Words can not accurately convey how amazing this trip was.
As for 2015…!? I already have plans under-way for more salamander outreach education efforts. Including another Salamander Saturday series at Thousand Islands National Park, several presentations for a private school in January, a talk for the Nature’s Explorers Camp, and many more!
By Matt Ellerbeck, Save The Salamanders
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