The March of the Salamanders

Friend Darlene Norman of Port Joli, Queens County has explained this natural phenomena to me for several years now and last night it happened again. What she calls  the “amphibian march” occurs once a year during the first warm wet night in late March or early April.

Literally dozens of yellow-spotted salamanders (some as long as 15 cm. in length) and the “occasional wood frog or two” make their way from the forest, on one side of the road (near her house), to ‘The Frog Pond’ on the opposite side of the road.  In the past the ‘march’ of about 10 meters has been known to stop traffic along the country lane where drivers have stepped out of their vehicles to watch the unusual event or to avoid crushing the little creatures as they cross the road.

Darlene explains, “How amazing that across Queen County (and probably Shelburne and coastal Lunenburg) thousands of these large wood salamanders are tonight crawling from their underground burrows and making their way to ponds where they will lay their eggs before returning to their woodland habitat.” Just when the return journey or march occurs is anyone’s guess, but they do return, to make their annual trek to ‘The Frog Pond’ once again.

This annual march is actually quite common in North America. Recently bloggers reported observing the spectacle in Ohio and New Jersey and other parts of the United States.

At 10 pm. last night Darlene was able to photograph some of the participants in this year’s Annual March of the Salamanders in Nova Scotia.

An update: The March of Salamanders was observed in several areas in Nova Scotia last night including locations in Queens and Lunenburg Counties. John Gilhen, a herpetologist with the Nova Scotia Museum and Dr. Ron Russell drove to the Aspotogan Peninsula, Lunenburg County to view the ‘march’ there. Mr. Gilhen reported that the yellow-spotted salamanders were very active and that he saw about 50 although some were found dead on the road.

When they stopped, they raised their heads and took a dragon stance.

Some were quite large. Darlene’s boot is a size 8.

The little guys were hard to see on the crushed rock near the road.

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04 2011

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