By Sarah Reynolds, The Island Eye News Senior Staff Writer
A former staff member of the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission’s Nature Interpretation Team has been credited with discovering a new species of millipede at Caw Caw Interpretive Center.
Tess Moody, who was a part-time CCPRC staff member and a student at North Carolina State University, first saw the small millipede at Caw Caw, located in Ravenel, in June of 2018 and noticed its uniquely marked appearance. She took a photo of the arthropod, and, after posting it to an online forum for entomologists, was contacted by Dr. Jackson Means of Virginia Tech, who believed it could be an unidentified species.
Moody and Dr. Means were unable to find the millipede specimen at Caw Caw again until June of 2020, when they were able to confirm that the millipede was previously undescribed in scientific literature.
The millipede belongs to the genus pleuroloma, and Moody will be able to name the species. She has indicated that she might choose something along the lines of “harenae,” which means “sand,” to reflect the species’ texture as well as its habitat preference.
“It is incredibly rare to discover a new species in this thoroughly explored region,” said Keith McCullough, natural history interpretation coordinator for CCPRC, “but it is no surprise that Tess or other members of our interpretation staff would be the ones to do it.”
Rich in natural, cultural and historical resources, Caw Caw Interpretive Center is operated as a low-impact wildlife preserve and is managed for waterfowl, songbirds, otters, deer and others. Caw Caw is also known as a coastal South Carolina birding hot spot and is a favored habitat for American alligators, swallow-tailed kites, bald eagles and others. The site features over 6 miles of trails with trailside exhibits and elevated boardwalks through wetlands.