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New newts found in West Cork delighting ecologists

June 12th, 2024 1:00 PM

By Jackie Keogh

New newts found in West Cork delighting ecologists Image
The male (left) and female Palmate Newt are just two of the nine newts discovered breeding in West Cork on May 21st last.

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BIODIVERSITY Week in West Cork was marked with the discovery of a new ‘newt’ breeding in the Clonakilty area.

Clare Heardman, conservation officer with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, confirmed that the unexpected discovery of lissotriton helveticus – a palmate newt – was made by Rob Gandola, a senior science officer with the Herpetological Society of Ireland.

The palmate is a species of newt typically found in Western Europe, from Great Britain to the northern Iberian peninsula. It can be between 5cm and 9.5cm long and are olive or brown in colour with some dark spots. Their underside ranges in colour from yellow to orange.

The species is common in Britain, but has never been recorded in the wild in Ireland before. Smooth mewt, otherwise known as lissotriton vulgaris, is Ireland’s only native species of newt.

‘How it arrived in West Cork is a mystery, which is yet to be solved,’ Clare told The Southern Star. ‘But it is hoped that DNA tests will reveal its origins.’ A total of nine individual palmate newts were found – both male and female – but it is likely that there are many more in the vicinity.

The conservation officer said this discovery highlights the value of survey work at a range of sites.Clare also expressed delight that the discovery on May 21st helped to make this year’s Biodiversity Week so memorable.

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