People show concern about greenhouse gases and the effects they may have on the environment, if any? Politicians, environmentalists and others share their opinions on pollution, and the difference in these opinions could lead to further confusion? Yes, there is a real concern, even in Tennessee the debate can get heated at times. Water pollution is a concern, an issue that should not be ignored.
The name hellbender conjures up imaginations, are they mean or hell bent on destruction? However the devil dog or snout dog could teach us about water pollution. The hellbender is a fully aquatic salamander; they can live 20 plus years and grow to more than 30 inches in length. Their age and size although impressive does not help us understand their importance in understanding water pollution.
The hellbender lives in clear, clean and moving water. The cold and moving water helps oxygenate the water. The hellbender breathes through folds in its skin, and this is where water pollution plays a vital role in their survival. In streams that have increased temperature or siltation, the burden for survival becomes complicated many times making survival impossible.
The hellbender is an indicator species and is an excellent educator as we struggle to understand pollution and its effects on humans. The hellbender used to be a common species throughout cold and clean streams in the Appalachian Mountains, but since 1970, their population has decreased by 80 percent in some reports, and their decline could be attributed to stream degradation and water pollution.
Why is this relevant? If the water quality is not able to maintain an indicator species, then the consequence of water pollution should be of interest to all of us. Regardless of source; chemicals, damming of streams, siltation through road construction or mining or many other factors the hellbender has suffered terribly and in return we are suffering from the same pollution that is killing our friend the hellbender.
The expression, “only a face a mother could love,” rings true. The hellbender would not win many cute animal contests, but what they lack in beauty they make up for in helping us understand the importance of clean water, and how we can help sustain a planet with healthy and potable drinking water.