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Monday, May 14, 2012

Random Invertebrate Day #3: Leeches

Today is Random Invertebrate Day, and I have decided to post about leeches. I had my first intimate encounter with a leech on my recent trip to the Dandenong Ranges National Park. While looking at a mossy log, I noticed a small creature moving towards me with a looping motion. I thought it was a caterpillar at first, and started to film it. At that point I realised it was in fact a leech. Only after I had finished filming, did it dawn on me that where there was one leech, there was bound to be more, and a quick inspection revealed I was covered in them. Luckily none managed to bite me before I flicked them off, but it was a close thing.

Leeches have also been in the news lately, as a recent paper has demonstrated their utility in monitoring mammal species in dense forests. This is one more valuable tool in the often desperate field of conservation biology.

I have embedded a video of the leech looping its way across the moss. It's pretty blurry, but if you look at the left hand side of the screen between 2 and 5 seconds, you can see a cool little mite or something scurry along and then disappearing into a crack. These miniature forests and their inhabitants are so fascinating.


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