How can dirt threaten a hellbender?

Joseph Oak, a design student from Carnegie Mellon, made this short animation about hellbenders for SCBI’s salamander conservation program. We decided to ask him a few questions about why he chose salamanders.

Q: Why did you decide to make a video about hellbenders?
A: The main reason I chose the hellbender was because of the threat it was facing. While the hellbender salamander may not be my favorite animal, I felt that the effects of siltation upon the hellbender’s populations had as much to do with them as it did us.

Q: Do you have a specific interest in wildlife? In salamanders? How did that interest develop?
A: Wildlife has always been fascinating to me; however, I’m sorry to say that I’ve never taken a great interest. The use of video and media to make information accessible and issues known has long been a passion of mine.

Q: What role do you think photos, video and animation plays in conservation?
A: I think that media plays a large part in wildlife conservation. Much of my appreciation for wildlife comes from programs like National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. I also feel that the documentation of these animals is incredibly important when sadly species do go extinct. Photos and videos then become the only sort of record of these species and a poignant reminder of the tragedy of extinction.

Lindsay Renick Mayer, Smithsonian’s National Zoo