Reptiles, amphibians star in Southeastern Channel's 'Backyard Wonders'
Contact: Christina Chapple
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BIG SNAPPER – Southeastern Louisiana University biologists Roldan Valverde, left, and Robert Moreau, director of the Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station, discuss the alligator snapping turtle in the Southeastern Channel's "Backyard Wonders,” debuting Nov. 26, 7:30 p.m., on Southeastern's educational cable access channel on Charter Cable Channel 18.
HAMMOND – The latest episode of the award-winning nature show “Backyard Wonders” will examine little-known facts about the history, lives, survival tactics and ecosystem functions of north shore reptiles and amphibians Wednesday, Nov. 26, at 7:30 p.m. on the Southeastern Channel, Southeastern Louisiana University’s educational cable access channel on Charter Cable Channel 18.
The show is hosted by Robert Moreau, Southeastern biology instructor and director of the Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station. For additional broadcast dates, check the Southeastern Channel schedule at www.selu.edu/tv.
“We are blessed here in southeast Louisiana to live in such a diverse and beautiful environment full of very interesting plants and animals, especially our reptiles and amphibians,” Moreau said. “Our viewers will get an up-close and personal view of some of our more common and fantastic creatures, from cottonmouths and copperheads to alligator snappers and salamanders.
“It’s also our hope that our viewers might look at these creatures a little differently the next time they come across one of these species in the great outdoors -- or in their own backyard!” Moreau said.
“The reptiles and amphibians discussed in this episode have survival methods and unique behaviors that are incredibly fascinating and intriguing,” said Southeastern Channel videographer-editor Josh Kapusinski, who produced the show. “Many of them are symbols of Louisiana wildlife -- such as the green tree frog, which is the official state amphibian, and the alligator snapping turtle, which is found only in this region.”
In the show’s first segment, Southeastern biology professor Brian Crother uses live copperhead and cottonmouth snakes to illustrate the difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes. He also points out common habitats for the snakes and what residents should do if they find a snake on their property.
At the Joyce Wildlife Management area in Ponchatoula, Moreau interviews Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologist Jeff Boundy, who describes the green tree frog. Wildlife and Fisheries zoologist Beau Gregory explains common frog calls and the Louisiana Amphibian Monitoring Program, which monitors amphibians throughout the state.
Roldan Valverde, a Southeastern assistant biology professor, displays and discusses the unique alligator snapping turtle, while Southeastern biology students talk about the importance of their turtle research in determining the impact of saltwater intrusion into the Lake Pontchartrain Basin.
“One of the main difficulties in producing this episode was getting the creatures to ‘smile for the camera,’” Kapusinski said. One turtle, he said, “decided to stick its head and legs inside the shell for the entire interview.”
An injured turtle and what can be done for injured animals are the topics when Moreau visits with Leslie Lattimore, a wildlife rehabilitator and founder of the Wings of Hope Wildlife Sanctuary in Livingston.
Meanwhile, Clifford Fontenot, a Southeastern biology instructor, looks at the interesting attributes of the aquatic salamander he found in his backyard.
To explore how reptiles and amphibians have contributed to Louisiana’s culinary heritage Moreau visits Reno’s Seafood Market in Manchac. Market owner Frank Reno discusses various dishes while sampling alligator sauce piquant.
Moreau also treks to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans to interview Robert Thomas, Loyola professor of environmental communications, on the subject of the declining worldwide status of amphibians.
Recipient of more than 80 national and international awards in the last five years, the Southeastern Channel airs on Charter Cable Channel 18 in Tangipahoa, Livingston and St. Tammany parishes; Channel 17 in Washington Parish; and live at www.selu.edu/tv.