A Beekman road spotted salamander encounter.

A Beekman road spotted salamander encounter.

by Jared Flesher
director, The Creature Show

On Beekman Road, a large orange and white sign announced the occasion: “Salamander Migration. Road Closed.” And so I found myself in East Brunswick, NJ, camera over my shoulder, in a misty drizzle, ready to learn just how waterproof my new LED videolights might be. (Answer: Not extremely waterproof.)

On the road, I found wood frogs and spotted salamanders making their annual migration from their woodland wintering grounds to the vernal pools on the other side of the street. I also met a father with his son, flashlights in hand, there together to witness the emergence of these spotted forest dragons never seen except on a wet spring night.

I’ve been lucky in my own life to have people who have grabbed me by the hand and dragged me out to the forest to show me incredible creatures I never would have known existed. I’ve had exceptional tour guides. Not everybody does. It is my hope The Creature Show will become someone’s first tour guide, someone who never knew they have the birthright to interact with their awe-inspiring natural heritage.

The Creature Show is being planned as a web series that will live on Creatureshow.com. It will be free for anyone to watch. Each episode will feature New Jersey’s most intriguing fauna, with a special focus on rare, threatened and endangered species. The show will also introduce viewers to the many wildlife biologists in the state who are on the front lines of working to save these species from extinction.

Why should humans care if another species goes extinct? What is truly lost? This is the question I’ve been wrestling to answer in my last two documentary film projects, and now in The Creature Show. What I think is that you can’t tell people. You have to show them.