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Is this California tiger salamander larva an “ugly duckling?”

California tiger salamander larva. Photo by Joanne Smith, Union City, CA
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Gary:
What the heck is this thing?  It was flopping around on top of the scum at Coyote Hills Regional Park.  It was about four or five inches long, definitely still alive. (Feel free to use this photo but I doubt anyone wants to see it!)

I love wildlife but this thing makes me shudder whenever I look at it.
Joanne Smith, Union City, California

Joanne:
It looks to me to be the larva of a California tiger salamander. This is, by the way, a threatened species in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Shudder? Why in the world would this lovely little creature make you shudder? It’s beautiful!  Below is a photo of an adult tiger salamander. /Gary

Adult California tiger salamander. Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA
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Posted on Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
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California tiger salamander is FINALLY protected

California tiger salamander (Brian Murphy/Walnut Creek, CA)
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I received the following information from the Center for Biological Diversity’s weekly e-newsletter for March 11:

On March 3 … “the California Fish and Game Commission voted 3-2 to protect the imperiled California tiger salamander under the state’s Endangered Species Act.

“The sensitive salamander depends on seasonal ponds, or vernal pools, for breeding — but these pools have proven ephemeral in more ways than one. In recent decades, 95 percent of California’s vernal pools has been lost to development — as has at least 75 percent of the species’ habitat across the state.
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Posted on Tuesday, March 16th, 2010
Under: Amphibians, California tiger salamander | No Comments »

California tiger salamander to net 74K protected acres

California tiger salamander
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I just got the following good news this morning in my weekly e-newsletter from the Center for Biological Diversity:

In response to a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit against Bush-era corruption, on Tuesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service re-proposed to protect 74,223 acres of habitat for California tiger salamanders in Sonoma County.
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Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2009
Under: California tiger salamander | 2 Comments »