By Carrie Hodousek
CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — “Ribbit… ribbit…” is just one of the many sounds coming from behind the glass at Camden’s Adventure Aquarium. The Frogs: Nature’s Messenger exhibition includes frogs from all over the world who have hopped their way into this temporary home until Sunday, April 27th. Visitors can get face-to-face with frogs of all different types, sizes, and colors.
“We have the Amazon Milk Frog, it gets its name from a milky secretion that it produces,” says Matt Ferroni, senior biologist at the aquarium. “We have the Waxy Monkey Frog, which, unlike most frogs, lives in dry-aired regions, so it coats its body with a froggy sunscreen to help protect itself and lock moisture in. We have the Solomon Island Leaf Frog which is large and bright yellow, and also the Poison Dart Frogs which are not actually poisonous in captivity, but full of amazing colors. The Vietnamese Mossy Frog is a master of camouflage.”
With the small-but-mighty role they play, the exhibit encourages visitors to respect frogs for their importance to the environmental conversation since it opened back in January.
Ferroni says frogs are good bioindicators and can even give us humans hints about what’s wrong with the environment. They do all of their breathing and absorb water through their skin, so if there is pollution nearby, they are the first to indicate that something is wrong. In polluted environments, frogs won’t develop properly during their metamorphosis.
“Two hundred species of frogs have gone extinct in the past 30 years, which is huge considering they’ve been here for 200 million years, so it lets us know that we have a lot of problems with our waterways and air pollution in general,” Ferroni says.
The process of creating the exhibit happened over the course of months through communicating with zoos and aquariums to see which frogs were available to trade within the community. After going through a 30-day quarantine period to make sure the frogs were free of any parasites, the exhibit was designed to best replicate their natural environment.
“Every few years they’ll discover a new species of frog they haven’t before. Some of these frogs are no bigger than a finger nail,” says Ferroni. “I’m a Poison Dart Frog kind of guy. They’re from all over Central and South America.”
Aquarium marketing representative Leah Ben said her favorite is the African bullfrog. “These frogs are actually the size of a dinner plate!”
Ben says you can learn more about these frogs at their closing weekend event called Save the Frogs from April 26-27th. Biologists, including Ferroni, are involved with activities, frog talks, and up close presentations. Donations will go directly to frog conservation.
For ticket information, visit Adventure Aquarium’s website.
Listen to or download the full podcast (runs 3:48)…