This project is a collaborative partnership between the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Buffalo State College, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, The Wilds, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and Memphis Zoo. Photography by Steven Johnson, Eastern Mennonite University.
In addition to being fast, slippery and scarce, the hellbender blends in perfectly with its habitat.
How do you find a rare animal that lives in swift-flowing streams, hides under enormous rocks, and swims faster than Michael Phelps? The critter we’re looking for is the hellbender (aka snot otter, grampus, devil dog, the list goes on…). The traditional way find these prehistoric-looking salamanders involves several steps: 1) recruit assistants with fast reflexes, 2) wait while everyone squeezes into wetsuits, 3) work your butts off lifting rocks, 4) blindly feel around for something squishy, and 5) hope you get lucky. But now there’s an easier way to do this, and it’s inspired by forensic science. Read more