West Virginia: Giant Hellbender Salamander Discovery from Brave Wilderness

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Coyote Peterson and Tim Brust capture and examine a Hellbender salamander and then release back to a West Virginia river at an undisclosed location.

The hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) is also known as the hellbender salamander — a species of aquatic giant salamander endemic to West Virginia and eastern North America. Coyote Peterson and Field Herpetologist Tim Brust find a large hellbender salamander under a rock while using diving mask in cold river water.

Hellbender salamanders are much larger than any other salamanders in their range. They are also very territorial and may kill and eat other salamanders of their species.

Hellbender salamander use an unusual means of respiration (which involves cutaneous gas exchange through capillaries found in their dorsoventral skin folds or lateral skin flaps. Their lungs may be used more for buoyancy to self-submerge and rise at different water depths.

Hellbender salamanders are listed as Near Threatened, and the video was captured in an undisclosed location near Elkins, West Virginia.

Tim Brust majored in Biology with concentration in Ecology
Degree, earning a B.S. at Virginia Military Institute.

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