Monday, May 3, 2010

Coastal Bays calls for citizen science volunteers Reptile, amphibian search May 15

The 10th Annual Great Worcester Herp Search will take place Saturday, May 15 when volunteers scour county lands for reptiles and amphibians.

Sponsored by the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, Delmarva Low-Impact Tourism Experiences (DLITE), Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and Salisbury University, volunteers can join us in the field for this citizen-science effort.

The search kicks off at 9 a.m. at the UMES Paul S. Sarbanes Coastal Ecology Center at Assateague. A brief pre-hunt training session will feature live turtles, snakes, frogs, and salamanders and explain ways to identify them in the wild. The training will prepare volunteers for searching four Worcester County sites in the morning and afternoon. Teams will disperse to various locations in Worcester County to locate, identify, and tally as many species and individual animals as possible during the course of the day. As citizen scientists, participants will learn from local experts who have extensive field experience, learn more about local wildlife, and have the chance to explore local habitats they have, likely, never visited. Adults and children are welcome.

Last year’s finds included black racers, worm snakes, ringneck snakes, and common watersnakes. Box and snapping turtles were found along with red-backed salamanders, five-lined skinks, ground skinks, and fence lizards. Frogs and toads included Fowlers toads and green, S. Leopard, and spring peepers. Calling Cope’s grey treefrogs were also part of the mix.

In Worcester, there are approximately 19 species of snakes, 15 species of frogs and toads, eight species of salamanders, 13 species of turtles and four species of lizards. Worcester County and the coastal bays watershed have more reptile species than any other county in Maryland. The search will provide data to help scientists better understand population trends in this declining group of vertebrates. No animals are harmed or removed from the wild during the search.

Participants should bring a sack lunch and drinks. A Salisbury University van will leave the Henson loading dock at the NE corner of the Henson bldg. on the campus at 8 a.m. Please email Dr. Ron Gutberlet at if you would like to carpool. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Sunscreen, mosquito and tick repellant, and boots are a must.

The Maryland Coastal Bays Program has been helping to track herp species accounts for over nine years. With the help of volunteers and partners, 40 species and over 1,100 individual animals have been tallied in Worcester County since 2001.

To view photos and the results of last year’s search, visit Maryland Coastal Bays Program on Facebook.

For more information, please contact the Maryland Coastal Bays Program at 410-213-2297 or

1 comment:

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