Sunday, February 21, 2010

arboreal salamander ~ 02/21/10 ~ Pacific Grove

arboreal salamander
Aneides lugubris
more information

My husband came home from an evening walk and announced he saw what might have been a dead lizard, newt, or salamander on the corner. I tossed on my shoes and ran back out with him to see what he found in the dark.

I was happy to discover this live salamander! My pictures were a bit fuzzy, so I brought him home to take a closer look. The salamander was surprisingly quick and agile.

I'm not 100% positive about my ID here, especially considering that before we looked it up online, I was trying to remember back to my basic biology class in college - something about 4 or 5 toes (lizards, btw!) and what was the difference between newts and salamanders. Haha! I did find this great herp site and from a fellow Pacific Grove resident to boot!

I fell in love with his sets of four moist toes and briefly considered keeping him as a pet. After repeatedly exclaiming how cute he was, even with his missing eye, we let him loose in the park below our balcony by the big oak tree instead of back on the street corner. I likened it to being picked up by a giant and plopped down in Nevada, but I figured he'd be much safer away from cars and evening dog walkers.

May you live long, my cute, one-eyed arboreal salamander!

ps 03/30/14 - After looking at my pictures of another arboreal salamander, I think the toe count is supposed to be 4 in the front and 5 in the back.  This individual is missing more than an eye, as its toe count is off.  I believe the slender salamanders (Batrachoseps spp.) are the only group with a max of 4 toes in the back.  Right?

Risso's dolphins
Grampus griseus

From our office window this morning I noticed the familiar, large disturbance in the bay waters - it looked like the v-shaped wake of a massive cruise ship, with a smattering of large, grey dorsal fins and spouts of white water. We quickly grabbed the camera and binoculars and ran out to the balcony to watch these dolphins. We estimate that there were almost a hundred individuals in this particular group. They were porpoising, spouting, breaching, and fluke waving, moving northward, and then seemed to stop right in front of us to feed. There was a large flock of gulls on the water surface, too.

I still vividly recall 2 years ago, witnessing a dolphin group at least 10 times this size, as far as I could see left to right, heading south towards the Monterey Bay Aquarium, during a pretty pink sunrise with a handful of boats tagging along; too bad I didn't think to take a picture back then. We like to quip to guests that the easiest way we spot whales and such in the bay is to keep a lookout for any congregation of whale watching boats. In 2009, I saw only 1 humpback from our balcony in late April without the aid of grouped boats, which was disappointing after we had numerous whale and dolphin sightings in 2008.

Even though we borrowed a cetacean book from a friend and learned about the identifying characteristics of spouts shapes, we had to reference one of the whale watching boat sites to deduce that it was a Risso's dolphin that we saw this morning. In addition to having poor zoom quality it's been drizzling, so my pictures aren't very good. At the very least, I'm glad to be recording our dolphin observation on this blog.