Friday, April 11, 2008

Salamander Season

Now that Spring has finally arrived I'm really hoping to make some new images of salamanders. The Blue Ridge Escarpment of South Carolina is one of the world's epi-centers for these amazing amphibians and provides habitat for some very unusual species. One of those is the Green Salamander Aneides aeneus which typically make their homes in small crevices in granitic balds and other types of rock outcrops. This beautiful, cryptically colored species is one of the most uncommon salamanders found in the Eastern U.S. and can be quite difficult to photograph even when you know where a population exists. Some researchers, such as North American Landtrust biologist Christopher R. Wilson proposes that this perceived rarity may be due, in part, to the Chestnut Blight that obliterated the American Chestnut population in the early part of the 20th century. Many propose that this species of tree was an important part of the salamander's habitat and even today it will often spend time in trees.

Of the sites that I know of, one in Pickens Co., SC proved to be the place where I would ultimately find a species to photograph. However, this came after several failed attempts to find one that I could safely reach. I was really thrilled when this day finally arrived and photographed the beautiful specimen in as many ways that I could think of. I knew that I only had a few minutes and wasn't sure when the opportunity might arrive again. In the end, my favorite shots were the ones that captured more of the spirit of the animal than every anatomical detail.

I recently returned to the site this spring and didn't see a single specimen. I only hope that this is due to my bad luck and not a decline in the population there.

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