05.31.20: Frog eyes

A frog rests in the water in Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Harbor, Ohio.

A frog rests in the water in Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Harbor, Ohio.

See lots of frogs? It’s a sign of a healthy ecology

Tech specs

  • Date/time: May 16, 2019, 2:40 p.m.
  • Location: 41°36'53.334" N 83°12'11.988" W  (Show in Google Maps)
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II 
  • Lens: Canon EF 600mm f/4L, Canon 1.4x teleconverter (840mm)
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Shutter: 1/1000th second
  • ISO: 640

I like frogs.

They are a fun subject for photography because (1) they don’t move much, as long as they don’t feel threatened; and (2) they tend to rest in “frog-colored” areas that provide camouflage and interesting photo compositions.

But my fondness for frogs stretches beyond photography and into ecology.

Frogs and other amphibians are excellent indicators of a healthy ecology. A wetlands area with an abundance of frogs is a thriving area. The frogs eat mosquitoes and other insects and serve as food for birds, snakes and fish. An absence of frogs can be a cause for concern because the absence can often be traced to pollution in the water. 

Frogs and other amphibians have thin skin that they sometimes breath through. This makes them an excellent early indicator of potential water quality problems, since those problems effect frogs long before other wildlife.

Here’s an area of concern: Frog populations worldwide have been declining in recent decades, with extinction threatening nearly one-third of the world’s amphibian species. According to various reports in science publications, nearly 200 amphibian species have disappeared in less than 40 years — an incredible increase over the historic pace of about one species ever few hundred years. Blame has been placed on pollution, loss of habitat and infectious diseases.

I photographed this frog on a hike through the wetlands at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge along Lake Erie near Oak Harbor, Ohio. I see a lot of frogs in the ONWR wetlands. That’s good. But it’s not the case elsewhere.

So maybe you should make like the princess in the Grimm Brother’s tale “The Frog Prince” and kiss a frog … while you can still find one.

Frogs and other amphibians are excellent indicators of a healthy ecology. A wetlands area with an abundance of frogs is a thriving area.