Topics » Science & Technology   Aug. 7, 2013

Ancient, Slippery, Enormous 'Snot Otters': Looking for Hellbender Salamanders

Heavy Lifting

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Hellbender SalamandersSnot Otters and Devil DogsIn Search of SalamandersSalamander SnacksHeavy LiftingCapturedCatch and ReleaseDrawing Blood Hellbender Bath TimeThe Big OneChecking for Chytrid FungusTaggedThreatened and Endangered

Heavy Lifting

A team of eight biologists and volunteers lift heavy rocks in a river in southwestern Virginia looking for hellbender salamanders. Hellbenders live under wide, flat rocks that can weigh up to 1,800 pounds. Survey teams can have up to 15 people just to scour the river for the animals. Two or three people lift the rock, while others wait with nets to catch the salamanders as they bolt from their hiding spot. Kim Terrell dives under the water, reaching for the squishy, slippery body of a hellbender.


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