Monday, September 6, 2010

An Unexpected Amphibian

On the way out of Glacier Bay, we stopped at Barlett Cove, home of a excellent dock (where one fisherman had a 376 pound halibut), a visitor's center, and a beautiful trail through the temperate rain forest.

The trail begins with a stone marker that was placed at sea level in 1966. It now stands much higher. Why? Because the land is still rebounding from its centuries under the glaciers.

And then into the forest, where every surface seemed to be dripping with moss, lichen, and fungi. I kept expecting a hobbit to appear. Instead, we found something better: Alaska's only hopping amphibian, the Western Toad (formerly known as the Boreal Toad).

I don't think I would have spotted him if he had stayed still. His green color blends perfectly with the moss and lichens. But Mr. Toad decided to hop, which gave me a chance to pick him up to share with our fellow travelers.
When we reached the Visitor's Center, we realized how uncommon the toads are. On the bulletin board by the main entrance, the National Park Service posted a flyer asking for information about any toad sightings.

But that's not all it said. In bold letters, the flyer also advised: "Do not touch or apprehend. Toad carries deadly fungus."

Yikes, that seems like the sort of thing they ought to tell you before you can get on the trail. I was going to wash my hands anyway, but this added some urgency. And then a light bulb went off, and I realized that they meant deadly to other toads. That made more sense. And is a good reason I won't pick up any more Western Toads.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, Alaska also has Wood Frogs =)