Monday, July 28, 2014

Hellbender Survey on Whites Creek 7-27-14

David Hedrick from the Chattanooga Zoo brought out some of his associates from Lee University to try and find hellbenders in Whites Creek. I've seen a dead one years back and we have campers who report seeing them recently. I really want to see a live one and verify there is a reproducing population in the creek. We saw a fine mud puppy, several mollusks, and a number of lively catfish were stirred up from under their rocky hiding places, but no hellbender so far. A new technique has been developed where the stream water is filtered and the filter tested for hellbender dna. The process has become so sensitive that a relative population density can be determined, which amazes me. We'll have those results this winter. In the meantime we plan on a night survey and attempting to trap them as part of the continuing effort. Anyone want to ID the mollusk or the vine flower? The cobble bar prairie plants are blooming for all they are worth at the moment.