The Great Lakes contain 20 percent of the world’s fresh water. And many species call this region home. Many do not know, Michigan and the Great Lakes are home to a fully aquatic salamander. The mudpuppy is a cold water adapted species and an important indicator of water quality. This aquatic salamander is sensitive to chemicals and pollutants in the environment. They act as an early warning system for environmental problems. David Mifsud: “If the gills are dark it tells us that there is a lot of dissolved oxygen in the water… “…Mudpuppies don’t have as many red blood cells in their gills trying to absorb oxygen… “… So in this case having dark gills, they’re using less energy and the dissolved oxygen in the aquatic environment is relatively high.” This makes them a critical component to Great Lakes aquatic systems, and important to monitor. Justin Chiotti: “Well mudpuppies are an indicator of the ecosystem and the health of the river.” And their conservation is a key part to sustainable, resilient ecosystems. Mary Bohling: “We’re here on Belle Isle today in Detroit, and it’s a big metropolitan area, so why are mudpuppies an issue here in the metropolitan area?” David Mifsud: “Being an urban center we have chemical and environmental inputs into the water that could be detrimental to various organisms… “…And being a species that relies on the permeability of their skin for water to pass through and having external gills, they are particularly sensitive to potential contaminants… “…So seeing them on the landscape and looking at the animals and seeing how healthy they are and what age classes we have, can tell us how healthy the water quality is in a particular area.” In 2016 the mudpuppy was elevated to a species of special concern. And is now protected by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. These declines are a result of several factors, including persecution relating to myths that surround the species. Fact, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And mudpuppies do not compete with gamefish for food. But rather help control invasive species, like the round goby. And they help keep water clean, by feeding on sick, or dead animals. If you encounter one while fishing please do not throw on ice. Even though they are a cold-hardy, species, they cannot survive being frozen. Justin Chiotti: “So I will just grab the shank of the hook and twist.” If you do catch one fishing, please gently remove the hook and release them back into the water. When considering the conservation of ecosystems we must focus our energy on those species that are key to the health and stability of the landscape. It is up to all of us to work together to keep our water clean and our ecosystems healthy. Please help conserve Mudpuppies and other amphibians and reptiles by contributing your observations to the Michigan Herp Atlas. Share with others what you have learned about mudpuppies and their important role in helping protect and maintain healthy Great Lakes ecosystems and fisheries. Funding for this project was provided through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Special Thanks Belle Isle Aquarium Potter Park Zoo Herpetological Resource Management, LLC U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Rhett Register Production by Zachary Barnes This video was prepared by Michigan Sea Grant
College Program under award NA140AR4170070
from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
through the Regents of the University of Michigan.
The environmental data, statements, findings,
conclusions, recommendations and related items of
information are those of the author(s) and have not
been formally disseminated by the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of
Commerce, or the Regents of the University of
Michigan and should not be construed to represent
any agency determination view or policy.