Monday, April 20, 2015

Pleasant River, Columbia Falls

Rainbow smelt net drying shack, low tide, Pleasant River, Columbia Falls, Maine, April 18, 2015.
Photo by Douglas Watts

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Big Night

An amazing thing happens on the first warm, rainy night of spring: it's called Big Night, and it's the time when frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians creep out from under the rocks and leaves they've been sheltering in for the winter, or from the dirt they've dug themselves into, and make their way to vernal pools.
The ground must be softened by thawing tempertures, around 40 or so. Most of the ground must be free of snowcover. There must be pools of water in low areas left by the melting snow. Rain is necessary to prevent the drying of fragile amphibian skin. And Big Night? is coming to Maine, soon. The next warm rainy night is likely to be the night.

Why am I telling you this? Well, you might want to venture out to see it, especially if you have kids: it's pretty magical. But even if you don't fancy an adventure in the 40-degree rain, it's good to know to be careful driving.

It's hard being an amphibian these days. Choosing vernal pools keeps eggs safe from fish that might eat them (vernal pools are temporary, hence the name, so fish can't make their homes there) nad night travel helps avoid predation on the adults as they travel. But evolution couldn't have accounted for vehicular traffic, and many routes to safety take the amphibians across roads and highways.

To learn more about Big Night in Maine, or to be a part of an organization helping to protect these creatures in their vulnerable crossing, check out the Maine Lakes Association