Salt Marsh Lessons
From the Lizard Hunter
Salt Marshes. A fertile ground for wildlife. An unlimited source for education, both serious and amusing. And, lessons from the intrepid and determined Lizard Hunter. So buckle up cause here we go!
Salt Marshes are home to some incredible wildlife. Herons, osprey, oysters, fish and more. Herons live in or near the marshes and depend upon them for their food. Same with ospreys. If one is in the habit of looking up, not just around or down, there is a better than even chance of sighting an osprey’s nest in a tree top.
Salt marshes are also the home for oysters. Oysters are one of natures vacuum cleaners. They clean the water and the marsh of pollution from all sources. Unfortunately, much like pigs, they have simple stomachs. What does this mean? For those who dine on the little creatures, one is dining on whatever the oyster ate. So, stop picking on me about my junk-filled diet if you eat oysters, okay? LOL!
Sadly, the marshes are also home to salt marsh snails. According to Brown University Research, Brian Silliman, “Snails can transform healthy marsh to mudflats in a matter of months. This finding represents a huge shift in the way we see salt marsh ecology. For years, scientists thought marsh die-off was simply a ‘bottom-up’ problem related solely to soil conditions. We found that the trouble also comes from the top down. Drought makes the marsh vulnerable, then the snails move in.”
Sadly, therefore, man is not the only danger to salt marshes which are necessary habitats for much of the wildlife near our coasts.
Also found in and around the marshy areas are all things that slither and scurry along the ground. One of those would be the American Chameleon also known as the Carolina Chameleon.
As a student of the fearless Lizard Hunter, we have been educating ourselves on said chameleon. For example, the male of the species measures between 5 – 8 inches. More than half of that, however, is tail. The female is smaller.
The male has a red dewlap while the females is white. The chameleon enlarges its dewlap frequently during mating season. This may also be a means for the chameleon to make itself appear larger as a defense mechanism. Its best known defense mechanism is its ability to change colors. The color can change from a lush, rich green to various shades of brown in a matter of moments.
Trust me (and the Lizard Hunter), once the color has changed, it is very difficult to find one hidden in a bush or even on a brick wall until it moves.
Here you see the dauntless Lizard Hunter zeroing in on a chameleon deep in the bush. And, if one looks closely, a glimpse of a brown chameleon may be seen hiding in plain sight on a branch.
Well, this lesson has been brief. Hopefully, it has been entertaining as well as educational. We must return to our posts and be on guard against an attack by an army of chameleons. So, until next time, a fond adieu from the Intrepid Lizard Hunter and yours truly! Good day!