2006-09-24

Blog: Endangered Ugly Things

I've recently discovered this new blog, just launched in August of this year. The author, Garfman, explains his/her inspiration in the inaugural blog entry:
Take a good look at the WWF website, (World Wildlife Fund, not the other one) and what do you see? The giant panda, of course. Tigers. Gorillas. Cetaceans. The token reptile, a sea turtle. Generally cute and/or fuzzy, or, failing that, sleek and "handsome". Notice a pattern?
...
Pulling up the Ohio Endangered Wildlife List, I discovered that among the listings was a species of midge. A midge! You know, the relatively inconspicuous insects that go largely unnoticed by anyone except entomologists--unless you're swatting at a cloud of them. If that wasn't enough, they were joined by endangered lampreys, beetles, clams, and some of the aforementioned snakes. Well, that settled it. These were as imperiled, and at least as important as the black bear, whose stories have peppered state news. Where were the American burying beetle news features? The "Save the Wartyback Mussel" t-shirts? The Ohio lamprey plush toys?
Garfman intends to publish one species profile a week. So far, we've seen:
  • Thamnophis radix radix, the eastern plains garter snake.
  • Neoceratodus forsteri, Queensland (or Australian) lungfish
  • Cryptobranchus alleganiensis, eastern hellbender
  • Sphenodon punctatus, tuatara
  • Lepidurus packardi, vernal pool tadpole shrimp
  • Cyclura lewisi, Grand Cayman blue iguana
Now, I happen to be quite fond of the squamates, but I recognize that others are not, so there's a need to highlight their perils and needs for protection and conservation. The Indiana Bat is another species on the Ohio list which is largely misunderstood, if not outright feared, and therefore deserving of special attention.

I think Garfman can go "uglier." Hagfish is about as gross as you can get, but they're not on the Ohio list. Lampreys are a close second, and they're on the list.

What would be your top choice for an endangered "ugly" species?

Links:

7 comments:

Loretta said...

Oh, it's always like that- the photogenic and fuzzy, cuddly critters get the love of the press...

Garfman said...

Thanks for spreading the word to help to change that.

biosparite said...

I find "freshwater mussels" (actually bivalves of the family Uniondae) to be beautiful, too. These animals are endangered both by habitat destruction, pollution and the incursion of the Asian clams released into American waterways by immigrants and now very abundant throughout the country. Freshwater mussel reproduction includes construction of a minnow mimic in their mantle tissue; when a fish strikes at it, the clam releases free-swimming larvae that take hold of the fish's gills and fins for a brief period of parasitism that does no harm to the fish but which serves to nourish and distribute the clam offspring. I have a fossil freshwater clam (ELLIPSIO sp.) which I collected from the lower Pleistocene part of the Bermont formation exposed at the bottom of the Leisey Shell Pit in Tampa, FL; it evidently washed out with other freshwater shells into the Gulf as the result of a long-ago hurricane/flood. I hope its distant decendants catch a break from ongoing threats posed by unthinking development; introduction of exotic species into American waterways; and unending discharge of industrial waste, sewage, and agricultural runoff.

Xris said...

Loretta: Well, I find lizards and snakes cuddly as well, but I'm not like most people!

Garfman: Welcome to the blogosphere!

Biosparite: I find mussels (any molluscs, really) more beautiful than hagfish, that's for sure! That story of mussel reproductive strategy is fascinating. I've never heard of anything like that. When I was in elementary school, one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up was a marine biologist; I lived in Florida at the time, so lots of marine about. I don't know the corresponding term for freshwater (hypohaline?).

Kati said...

I'd be struggling to say some of these critters are "cuddly"! But fascinating, yes. We are strange beings, we humans, the way we assume the right to use our own criterion to judge the right of other creatures to live or die. Any means we use to spread the word that all creatures that live, that 'breathe', are exquisitely important to all of us, I'll support!

Carol said...

Very interesting site you've found for us. I'm going to bookmark it and check back.

Annie in Austin said...

We've got an endangered native Salamander found in Barton Springs pool here in Austin. It might be considered ugly by some, but it's become the emblem for the forces against water pollution, and its presence has had environmental, political and commercial impact.

http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/salamander/

Annie