A Gentle Wave Goodbye

For the first time a BBC film crew has captured footage of a rare frog waving, wrestling and courting.

The Panamanian golden frog communicates with other frogs by semaphore in the form of gentle hand waves. It has evolved the mechanism to signal to rivals and mates above the noise of mountain streams.

Just after filming was completed in June 2006, the location was overtaken by the chytrid fungus.

The global trade in frogs, toads and other amphibians–begun in the 20th century– may have accidentally helped create and spread the deadly fungal disease, chytridiomycosis, which has devastated amphibian populations worldwide.
“It’s likely that the amphibian trade has allowed different populations of the fungus from around the world to come into contact with each other, allowing recombination to occur,” says Rhys Farrer from Imperial College London and ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, lead author of the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

What’s more, researchers say that unless the trade is regulated, even deadlier strains of the disease may soon emerge.
“The horse has well and truly bolted,” said Dr. Matthew Fisher from Imperial College London, ” but to halt the further spread of this disease, we really need to increase global biosecurity.”

Hilary Jeffkins, senior producer for the BBC One series, said “This whole species is now extinct in Panama –  one of the last remaining populations. Its final wave was in our programme.”

Local people believe that the frogs turn to solid gold when they die.



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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A sad commentary. I grew up with parents who advocated a learned acquaintance with all firms of nature. My brother and I sat through slide presentations accompanies by recordings of many categories including Frogs & Toads of North America compliments of Cornell Univ. Numerous species became my friends and I was thrilled to identify them in the wild at our house with a lake and our summer house in
    watershed territory. Their depletion over the years and seeming disappearance was very sad. Recently a few have resurfaced and we continued our dialog while paddling around the lake. It is good to learn about the concept of fungus when everyone was blindly attributing the disappearance simply to global warming. Thanks for the insight

    • I’m afraid I wouldn’t count out global warming as a contributing factor to a rampant fungus.
      Mankind has changed everything in so many ways with so many multiple actions, that it must be almost impossiblr to sort it all out.

  2. Reblogged this on My Botanical Garden and commented:
    A sad story……

    • Hi, my dearest far-away friend.
      I owe you a letter.

      Yes–A heartbreaking story. One of millions, I’m afraid.

      Best to you,

      • Still we have to do our best….

  3. Unbelievable. I always think of frogs as impossible to become extinct. And to think they got the film at such a critical time! Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

    • Offhand – can’t think of anyone or anything that couldn’t become extinct.
      I think any time would have been a bad time for the frogs to get a fatal fungus; people who think it’s fun or even acceptable to move animals around like things so that they can make money -should guess that they’re going to wreak more havoc than they can comprehend with their limited intelligence.
      It was kind of lucky that the BBC was there to record the last sign of the natural population in their native spot.

  4. Such a sad story ! One of many I’m afraid ! Here in Belgium we have a problem with the bullfrogg who was imported from the US, he’s eating all our native froggs !!!

    • I love hearing about what happens in Belgium, and Belgian gardens.
      But I really wish frogs wouldn’t eat one another! As a vegetarian I give the benefit of the doubt to cats–who need taurine to survive–but it’s a shame about all the others.
      And I apologize for our Bullfrogs.

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