Nature from the ground up

Susan Flanagan
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NLNature website lets amateur enthusiasts fill in the blanks

A couple of summers ago, my husband and I took a swim at Outside Pond Park in Trinity Bay.
The water lilies were so abundant it was like swimming through huge umbilical cords.

I am not known for bravado under water. In fact as a general rule I do not like to see anything under water besides painted lines.

So these floral umbilical cords freaked me out so much that when we surfaced on the far side of the pond, I had to tell my husband I had to get out and fast.

Knowing that I had once had an aquatic meltdown after spotting his white fleshy foot in the water swimming ahead of me, this came as no surprise.

The choice remained however if I should leave the water on the far side and walk around to the beach or if I should say a prayer and try to make it back by swimming.

Under pressure, I agreed to swim — it would be faster. You can imagine how excited I was to reach the beach and leave the water behind. I decided to make my escape by means of large rocks just outside the swimming ropes.

It was there, crawling on a rock, that I saw a black bug so large and grotesque looking I was sure it had fallen out of a South American banana shipment.

I was transported back to my days in Australia where the cockroaches were big enough to walk on a leash. I brought two of my boys over to witness the specimen. They were equally agog.

What was this creature from the abyss and what was it doing in Outside Pond?

Turns out it was a giant water bug and, according to my bug-expert friend, Kevin Pardy, it is perfectly normal to sight one on the island.

Kevin even has one in his home collection. It was in viewing his collection of (thankfully dead) Newfoundland bugs that I learned the name of the creature.

Although I hope never to meet a giant water bug again, I am delighted to say that the next time I come across something unfathomable in nature in this province, I have found a spot to look up such sightings in case Kevin is out of town.

My neighbour, Yolanda Wiersma, who carries out research and teaches biology at Memorial, started a website back in 2009 where nature lovers like me can post either a photo or description of something they have come across in this province and get help in its identification.

Unlike some citizen science projects, where you need to have some training or a certain level of expertise in species identification to participate, Yolanda explained to me that is flexible, and that you don’t need to know what it is you saw to contribute.

General descriptions are welcome, and chances are there is an enthusiast on the website who can help you identify what it is you saw.

The website exists to promote public awareness of the plants and animals in the province, but Yolanda and her colleagues are also using it as a means to do research in crowdsourcing. By contributing to this user-friendly site — — you are helping build an online atlas of Newfoundland and Labrador wildlife.

“NLNature welcomes any sighting of plants, animals, and other things (e.g., interesting rocks, landmarks) in Newfoundland and Labrador,” says Wiersma.

“Contributing to NLNature is easy … and the sightings data can be used to monitor local wildlife, inform conservation policy, protect endangered species and educate students and the public about local natural history.”

See SITE, page B2

The fact that the site was user-friendly was a big plus for me, as I’m known to be technically challenged. If I do run into any problems, NLNature techie Roman Lukyanenko, a PhD Student in Business, is only an email away.

“The data (collected) can also be used as part of trends monitoring, to detect unusual species occurrences, and to detect novel findings of species in areas where they have previously not been observed,” adds Wiersma. “For example, we’ve had people detect sub-tropical species like a Great Egret that occasionally blows in on a storm. We also recently had a detection of a species of mosquito new to the island.”

Although I’m not interested in discovering new bugs, I am interested in birds and I often have a hard time identifying what kind of bird I’ve seen as I’m visually oriented and my bird guide features black and white illustrations. But on NLNature I can view up close colour photos of birds to help identify what I’ve seen. I haven’t had this much fun since my last hike.


Susan can be reached at


John Kielley feedback

Charlie Anonsen writes: “Jack Kielley flew with my father for EPA as a bush and water bomber pilot. He used to drop by my boat when I started my (Scademia) tours in 1978. It was a thrill for me hearing his stories about the good old days.”

Roy Bannister from Roddickton called to say: “John Kielley was a pilot with EPA who delivered mail to Roddickton. I remember the day of my 17th birthday. It was in August and my father had just moved my sister’s house and there was a mother-in-law door. John used to stay the night at our place and (this particular night) he went to step outside, and before I could say stop, he was gone over. He couldn’t fly the next day because he hurt his neck in the fall.”

John M. Earle of Lewisporte  writes: “I always make it a point to read your columns in The Telegram as sometimes it brings back memories of when we were raising our own…  family of six (4 boys-2 girls) so… I do get a few chuckles. The Oct. 22 column … did suddenly bring back a vivid memory. … I did have the pleasure of meeting and flying with Jack (John) Kielley. … I had been a young radio operator sent in to Hopedale, Labrador to take the place of and provide holiday relief for two other radio operators who were stationed at Hopedale. I arrived via Goose Bay in October 1957 and by late April 1958, my job was done.

“One day in late April, we were indeed happy to see a red beaver aircraft land. It didn’t take yours truly very long to grab my few belongings, check with Mr. Kielley and be on that aircraft whose registration I still recall as CF-GBD. Mr. Kielley was alone and had dropped off the Hopedale mail and had one more stop before heading back to Goose. I still remember … Mr. Kielley pointing out famous landmarks like Monkey Hill. … on our track toward Goose.

Although I had heard of Mr. Kielley and several others of the old EPA captains since then, I never did see him again and am sorry to hear that both he and his wife have passed on.”

Randy Dawe writes: “Thanks for the memories of Myrna and Jack Kielley. Myrna took our wedding pictures. My wife Linda and I were married Dec. 9, 1972 at St. Teresa’s Church and our reception was at the Holiday Inn. John, or Jack as he was called, was a helicopter pilot with Transport Canada later referred to as Canadian Coast Guard. I also worked there for 31 years and had my first helicopter flight with Jack to the South Coast for a light station inspection trip. I remember the fog moving in on the coast and we had to land on Pass Island. It was a Wednesday and we never left until the following Monday when the fog finally lifted.”

Suzanne (Dodd) Rowe of Grand Bend, Ontario writes: “John Kielley was my mother Joan’s brother and he was my favourite uncle.… My Aunt Peg is the only sibling living now. There were eight of them and lots of cousins.”

Scott Warren writes:  “I grew up on Shea Street. My 87-year-old dad still lives there. I was a paper carrier on Shea and Osborne for about five years. I knew the Kielleys. I used to play with John Jr. (we called him John John). He had a younger sister, Meuna Lee. … Mrs. Kielley had a great Halloween party every year.  I was invited a few times.… Thanks for the memory.”


C2C feedback

C.J. Nolan writes: “Great feature, Susan. I just visually re-lived my 2013 C2C race through your writing. I really liked your analog. … Not that I know anything about the pain of childbirth, but I continue to sign up and suffer through those grueling 20K.”

Note from Susan: I meant to clew up my last column by saying that like consecutive births, a C2C performance improves with each running. After you’ve done it once, you know what’s coming and you prepare for it. And each time, it gets a little easier.

Organizations: EPA, Holiday Inn, Transport Canada Canadian Coast Guard South Coast

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Australia, Hopedale Roddickton Goose Bay Monkey Hill Teresa Pass Island Grand Bend Shea Street

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