Friday, November 26, 2010

The Hellbenders...

It rained all day on Thanksgiving. The local creeks and streams swelled and the currents became considerably quicker. While I was pulled over, taking pictures of the rushing water, one of my neighbors pulled up. He asked me if I was looking for Hellbenders. I didn't know what he was talking about. It sounded like a punk band or some kind of bad B horror movie.

I later discovered that the Hellbenders (also known as Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) are a type of giant salamander that are quite rare. These creatures with undulating skin, beady eyes, and snub noses are not fiction, but fact.

One of the local conservation groups apparently tracks these unusual creatures and have noted that they were on the rise in this area. In some places the indigenous populations of Hellbenders are considered endangered species or "of special concern". With the new Marcellus Shale natural gas wells being dug not far and their water requirements (and subsequent pollution of natural sources of water) I wonder how long these creatures who can live up to 50 years will continue to thrive. It would be sad to see another species slip through the cracks of time, becoming a thing of myth and fantasy.

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