The Maine Master Naturalist class of 2015 graduated last night and for the second year in a row I had the privilege of helping students focus their eyes and develop a strong foundation about the natural communities of Maine. And now, they are ready to go forth and educate others.
In some ways, the year reminds me of life in a vernal pool.
And at the vernal pool I’ve been visiting on a regular basis since March, the transformation continues. I know I’ve included it in several (probably more than several) posts, but today seems like a good day to reflect upon its life cycle.
March 25: A snow-covered depression with some indecipherable tracks crisscrossing the surface.
April 4: Snow, water and slush. Something caused a disturbance.
April 12: Freeze and thaw and freeze again, trapping newly fallen beech leaves.
April 21: Three days ago, this was still covered in slush. Suddenly, open water.
April 21: The wood frogs didn’t waste any time.
April 24: More and more egg masses appear–attached to the branches or each other, as is their habit.
April 28: Though most are wood frog, there are some spotted salamander egg masses in the mix. All are taking on the green tinge from the algae with which they have a symbiotic relationship.
April 28: Meanwhile, not even bothering to lurk in the shadows, a predaceous diving beetle swims about.
May 2: A well camouflaged wood frog still hopes for some action.
May 4: Wood frog egg mass at top; spotted salamanders mass at bottom.
May 4: Tadpoles at last.
May 4: With communal living comes warmth.
May 4: Mosquito and other larvae flip-flopping around.
May 5: A sign that the pool is beginning to dry up–egg masses suspended in midair.
May 5: Meanwhile, in the water, life continues. Tadpoles and others feed on the algae.
May 12: Due to a lack of rain, the pool size decreases.
May 12: I can only hope that these blobs are just the remains and that most of the tadpoles have hatched.
May 12: A peek into the variety of life below the water.
May 14: Shrinking more and more.
May 14: Some masses are left high and dry.
May 14: A tadpole visits the salamander embryos.
May 14: Peanut shells. What? There hasn’t been much evidence of any person or critter visiting the pool . . . until this.
May 28: Almost completely dried up.
May 28: The only wet spot left.
May 28: Tadpoles make the most of the wee bit of water.
May 28: The wet depression boils with action.
May 28: And peanut shells are everywhere in the pool, but only one on the snowmobile trail. Another mystery.
With the end of class, eighteen new master naturalists are heading off into the woods to teach others. I hope the tadpoles have a chance to continue their development so that they, too, can hop away from the pool.
As for the vernal pool–vernal means spring and though spring isn’t over, unless we receive a substantial rainstorm, it has almost completed its cycle of life.
Thanks for wandering and wondering with me today.