As I wander through the Blue Hills these days, I know spring is here, because I can hear the chorus of the wood frogs and spring peepers as I pass vernal pools. If you are not familiar with the term “vernal pools”, these are seasonal ponds that are wet for a few months and then dry up in the summer time. They look like ponds in the middle of the woods or beside the trail. Wood frogs, spotted salamanders, and other amphibians are migrating to these pools right now to lay their eggs. A spotted salamander egg mass is shown in the picture to give you an idea of what they look like. The egg masses are jelly-like and fragile, and vulnerable to disturbance.One type of disturbance I have noticed lately is people allowing their dogs to run or swim through a vernal pool. This kind of disturbance can be disastrous for amphibian eggs, causing them to rupture and perhaps killing the developing embryo. For this reason, please do not allow your dog or any other animal to run through a vernal pool at any time, but especially between now and the end of May. Please help to protect this precious resource and the animals that must use them in order to breed.

Posted by Professor Jonathan Twining, Eastern Nazarene College (Quincy, MA)