Just to continue my thoughts of the previous post regarding species at risk and the use of sentinels (see my post below) this little creature, the Pacific Water Shrew, is a great example. Found on coastal lowlands of the Pacific Northwest, the Pacific Water Shrew was designated threatened in Canada in 1994 (threatened means that if things go on unchanged, this species will eventually no longer exist). The Pacific Water Shrew is a mouse-like animal with a pointy snout, long tail, velvety fur and broad paddle-like feet. About 15 cm long, he likes to eat insects and, of course, loves the water. This shrew lives mainly in valley bottom forests along streams and wetlands (called riparian areas). Unfortunately, the range of this little furry guy coincides with the major urban areas in British Columbia, the Lower Mainland (see picture in my last post). Ditching and draining of streams as well as stream pollution have impacted the shrew.
Here's the really cool part: the Pacific Water Shrew is considered unique for having skills of biblical and Olympian proportions. Not only can this diminutive creature dive several metres deep but he can run on top of the water for several seconds. Not only is he a cool dude; the Pacific Water Shrew is no slouch when it comes to doing his part in the ecosystem. Shrews feed on sawfly pupae on the forest floor and are known to be useful biological control agents during sawfly and other pest outbreaks (Narorsen, 1996). See? Do you have any cool examples? I'd love to hear of them.