Explore A Stream: You Might Find Salamander Larvae

My daughters found some salamander larvae in a stream in Southern Maryland in March. They are out there but how many of us ever see them. To find these little guys, you will need to look more closely and perhaps have a bit of luck.

Some salamanders have an aquatic larval stage. The larvae can swim and they have gills in order to breathe in water.

The photo shows the aquatic larval stage of a salamander in Southern Maryland. Note the feathery gills extending out of the neck area. Eventually the larvae will metamorphose into an adult salamander.

Naturally, I wanted to find out what kind of salamander these guys would grow up to be.

I did some research and of all the salamanders found in Maryland, the only salamanders that can be found in the Southern part of Maryland and have an aquatic larval stage are: Dusky salamanders, Two- lined salamanders (see: http://www.funinthemaking.net/2009/11/05/finding-salamanders-for-fun-and-study-where-to-look-and-how-to-handle-for-your-safety-and-theirs/), Mud salamanders, and Red salamanders. I’m not sure it is possible to identify them at this young stage. If you have any knowledge on the subject, please pass it on.

Here is the website I referenced to discover the Salamanders in Maryland:

http://wwwnew.towson.edu/herpetology/Amphibians.htm

Explore A Stream: You Might Find An American Eel

Post Correction: I made a mistake! We did not find  an American eel. In fact we found several lampreys!

On a recent hike along a stream (Maryland USA / March) we found several young American eels (Anguilla rostrata) swimming around.

I did a little research on these eels and discovered that the females lay their eggs in the Sargasso Sea. That’s a long way away from Maryland. Apparently all eels spawn in the Sargasso Sea. The eggs hatch into a larvae and are carried by ocean currents to areas along the Atlantic coast. They are called glass eels because they are transparent at this time. Next they make their way into freshwater rivers and streams. When they begin to get some color they are referred to as elvers. When they reach 4 inches they are called Yellow eels. Yellow eels can stay in fresh water for many years. Eventually they making their way back out to sea to spawn and die.

Eels can produce slime. The slime coat protects it from disease. (This is not an American eel as it turns out but a lamprey!

We promptly returned this guy to the stream after a quick photo shoot.

Read more here: http://www.agmrc.org/media/cms/AmericanEel_42EA03380CDE9.pdf

Or here: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/fishfacts/eel.asp

St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow Mosaic

This project is simple enough for even very little hands, although, you might need to draw out the rainbow strips in which they are to fill.

For a more tile-like look use thin cardboard which is thicker than tiles made from regular paper.

For more information on paper mosaics see my post: Recycle Your Cereal Boxes and More Into Pretty Paper Mosaics

Recycle Your Cereal Boxes and More Into Pretty Paper Mosaics

You probably have all the supplies you will need for this project right in your recycle bin. Cereal boxes and salvaged note book covers become art when cut into pieces and cleverly arranged.

How to tips:

Design your mosaic and sketch it lightly on a stiff piece of paper. I use foam board pieces and mat board scraps from a framing shop. These scrapes would otherwise be wasted. Call around to see what might be donated to you.

Save scrap paper (such as colored handouts form school, phone book covers, magazine pages…) or thin cardboard (such as cereal boxes, crackers and other food boxes, non-food boxes, notebook and coloring book covers…).

Cut the boxes in strips ½ inch thick. Focus on the parts with the most pure color. I like to use a paper cutter. More advanced students might want thinner strips in order to achieve finer details.

Here I have organized the scraps by setting ice cream containers into Clementine boxes.

Artists will cut up the strips to make their own mosaic tiles. It isn’t necessary to cut all the pieces in squares. Sometimes you will need more of a triangular shape to fill the space. Besides, you want to have a broken tile look.

Work one area at a time. Fill in the areas by gluing your “tiles” on one by one. Paste works well and is environmentally friendly. Glue sticks work nice but create a lot of plastic waste. If using white glue, I recommend using an old paint brush to apply the glue.

When done and the glue/ paste is dry, apply a layer of Modge Podge or an equivalent product.

*The butterfly mosaic above was a collaborative effort by young artists whose ages ranged from 6 to 11.

To see an example of a paper mosaic made from recycled thin cardboard such as cereal boxes, see my post: St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow Mosaic

St. Patrick s Day Clover Bouquet

Girl in field picking St. Patrick's Day Clover Bouquet

Have yourself a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!

Find a quit spot and pick yourself a beautiful bouquet of clovers, grass and any available wildflowers. While you are there take a closer look around. You may not find any signs of a Leprechaun but you will surely discover another world filled with tiny living things such as lady bugs and grass hoppers.