The latest family-friendly summer programming event put on by the Outlook & District Regional Park featured a half-foot amphibious creature that proved to be a hit with both kids and adults.
On Saturday, July 21, a large crowd was on hand to see a presentation on endangered species by Kenton Lysak, a senior interpreter with the Meewasin Valley Authority who spoke about salamanders and the role they play in our environment.
Along with Kenton was Giga, a tiger salamander whose species are the ones typically found in our part of the province.
Lysak, a very energetic and enthusiastic speaker, was a hit with the kids and found a way to be both entertaining and educational as he spoke about the history of salamanders and the traits they exhibit. With roughly 1000 different kinds of salamanders, one might think that there is very little danger to the species, but Lysak explained that salamanders – particularly the ones seen in this region – were actually put on the endangered species list two years ago.
Kenton went over some of the history of tiger salamanders since that species is the most predominant one in this part of the province, noting that the longest one ever recorded was 14 inches in length. The species is seen as important as far as controlling the mosquito population, and the biggest predator of the salamander would be owls, notably due to the bird’s deceptively-quiet and stealthy flying at night.
Lysak stressed how we as humans need to be doing better at our water use and needing to change what goes into our water runoff in order to help protect species that live in the habitat, noting how the grasslands prairie is the most endangered ecosystem in the world now.
“So we really have to start protecting these places, and we have to learn how to protect these species,” he told the crowd.
To close out the afternoon, Kenton brought out Giga, who proved to be a hit with both kids and adults as they took turns holding her and seeing up close the kind of species that is being affected by our ever-changing and now endangered ecosystem.
Kenton will be back with another presentation in the Outlook Regional Park on Saturday, August 18 when he’ll be discussing bats.