Remembering frogs

Pacific tree frog (from BC FrogWatch)I’ve always liked frogs and other amphibians –especially the tiny and delicate green tree frogs that sometimes turn up on walks in the forest where I grew up on Vancouver Island.  One frog memory that stands out in my mind was from the summer I was about ten. My family spent a day at Ten Mile Lake near Quesnel in the BC interior. It was the Day of the Frogs. Hundreds of tiny brown frogs were everywhere! We kids collected them in whatever we had on hand — pails, pop cans, our hands. Most, we let go after watching them for awhile, but I do remember trying to bring a few unlucky ones home in a pop can (I think my dad returned the survivors to the lake).

I don’t know what it was about that year (around 1970), but I’ve talked to other people who have similar memories of the amazing abundance of frogs that summer. I never saw numbers of frogs like that again and probably never will — now that frogs are disappearing all over the globe.

Frogs, salamanders and other amphibians are in trouble. That’s why 2008 is not just the Year of the Rat, it’s the Year of the Frog. Scientists and other frog-watchers are calling for raised awareness and action to help save frogs and their relatives.

Frogs are cool. The jump, they croak (when I was in Japan I spent about an hour hunting for a glimpse of the loudest frog I’d ever heard — it sounded huge, but in fact, it was tiny and very good at hiding), and they come in a variety of colours. They play an important role in their ecosystems, eating hundreds and even thousands of bugs a year. The protective chemicals produced by some frogs have also been refined by scientists for use as life-saving medicines.

Frogs and other amphibians have thin semi-permeable skin that helps them drink and breathe, but that also makes them vulnerable to environmental contaminants (like pesticides and herbicides sprayed on farmers’ fields). Amphibians are often the first creatures to be effected by carcinogens and hormone-altering chemicals in the environment, which is why they’re considered an indicator species. When they’re in trouble, we’re in trouble.

Frogs are effected by habitat loss, climate change, disease, introduced predators, pollution, pesticides, etc., so anything we can do to help reduce these will help save frogs. As Kermit the frog says, “It’s not easy being green.” So, think green: remember the frogs.

If you’ve got a frog encounter story, please share it here.

frog awareness poster

(Awareness poster from the Vancouver Aquarium’s frog conservation project.)

 

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4 Responses to “Remembering frogs”

  1. Anne-Marie Says:

    Thanks for this interesting post. Creatures like frogs are not the pin-up animals of conservation but, as you say, they are important indicators of what’s going on in the environment. I hope they get more publicity. You might be interested to know that an author in the town I live in is writing a series of children’s books about frogs, in celebration of the year of the frog.

    I have no frog encounters of any note to tell you; except that I remember, a couple of years ago, walking down a coastal road in Tasmania at dusk on my way to watching the fairy penguins return from the sea – and all along this road the frogs were singing. I never saw them, although I searched for them, but they made this beautiful, melancholy symphony that I’ll never forget.

  2. Jacqueline Pearce Says:

    Hi Anne-Marie. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’ll have to watch for the frog books. And speaking of Tasmania, I’ve heard that Tasmanian devils are in trouble, too. Another interesting creature we may lose.

  3. J-P Antonio Says:

    Hello,

    I enjoyed your post about frogs. Yes, I love them too. I listen to them every night in the rice fields. But there aren’t as many around as there used to be because the rice fields have slowly disappeared in my neighbourhood.

    The fungus, which has been discovered to cause most of the frog deaths around the world, has been found in Japan but so far it has not caused great harm. I hope it never will. Silent rice fields would be very unnatural. That would be the sound of death.

    By the way, the word for frog in Japanese is “kaeru” which also is a homonym for the verb “to return”, pronounced “kaeru” as well, even though the chinese characters for both words are different. This has lead to the use of frogs in gardens as symbols of good fortune. To return home safely is a good thing. Lets hope the hope the frogs of the world will safely return to their natural environments.

  4. Crafty Green Poet Says:

    I love frogs too, my partner’s parents’ garden pond is full of frogs. I also remember once in a nature reserve finding a huge long line of frogs, including very young ones, travelling along the road.

    I think that the British common frog is one of the few frogs that isn’t affected by the disease that is affecting so many others. There was an excellent but very disturbing tv programme on recently about the decline of frogs and it showed the last golden frogs in the world being removed to captivity to avoid them succumbing to the disease as it came upriver.

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