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Photo Essay – The Call of the Frog

Marsh frog with fully inflated vocal sacs [Julian Alper]
Marsh frog with fully inflated vocal sacs [Julian Alper]

From our home in Tiberias, it is truly inspiring to watch the sun rise each morning over the lake. And indeed, we are not just inspired by the Kinneret, we’re also inspired by the wonderous nature in the surrounding mountains and glorious countryside that hosts a multitude of birds, animals and flowers.

Taking advantage of our good fortune, I recently spent some considerable time watching frogs in a nearby pond and was fascinated and inspired by what I saw. After several minutes observing the frogs in the pond, I noticed that bubbles formed on each side of the face of one particular frog as it croaked. And then the bubbles quickly deflated as it stopped croaking. Some instant Wikipedia research[1] told me that male frogs attract females by blowing such bubbles, but the frogs’ bubbles are not just for display they serve a functional purpose too[2]. If a frog were to call out, its croaks might be heard as far away as just a meter or two, but by inflating its vocal sacs (bubbles), the sound resonates and can be heard up to hundreds of meters away, thus enabling the female frogs to locate the males[3].

Marsh frog with partially inflated vocal sacs [Julian Alper]
Frogs spend a lot of their efforts in remaining out of reach and out of sight of predators, which include snakes and lizards, fish and birds. Certainly, their greeny-brown colouring is well suited to camouflaging themselves in ponds and rivers thus helping them to stay clear of danger. Isn’t it somewhat surprising then, that frogs should inflate their vocal sacs and cry out to all around, revealing their location? It’s a bit of a catch-22 – damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Poor frogs; they have something of a dog’s life. Despite the danger to the frog in its croaking, it continues, nevertheless, to do so. It has to perform its life mission – to procreate.

Marsh frog with deflated vocal sacs [Julian Alper]
To enable them to fulfill this mission while dodging attacks from predators, frogs have been blessed with exceedingly powerful rear legs that give them a fantastic jumping ability – the height and length of their jump makes Bob Beamon’s[4] look distinctly unimpressive and Fosbury’s[5] look like a complete flop. With this defence arsenal they’re able to evade capture by all but their most capable predators. So maybe a croaking frog’s life isn’t such a dog’s life after all and hopefully, with those legs, the croaking frog won’t become a dog’s dinner.

 

[1] See Vocal sac – Wikipedia but note that the pictures of the marsh frog weren’t yet there – I have since added these pictures to this Wikipedia article.

[2] Some frogs have a single throat sac, some have a pair of throat sacs and some have a pair of lateral sacs.

[3] Each species of frog has a unique call, that helps the female frog to locate the males of its own species, thus preventing interspecies mating.

[4] Bob Beamon’s World record for an enormously long jump in the 1968 Olympics wasn’t bettered for almost 23 years.

[5] Dick Fosbury was an Olympic High Jumper, who won the Gold Medal in 1968. He was the initiator of the High Jump technique known as the Fosbury Flop.

About the Author
I am an Amateur Photographer living in Tiberias, having made Aliyah from Manchester, UK. When not out and about with my camera I work as a Hi Tech Consultant. This is my website - https://natureofisrael.blogspot.com/. You can see my contributions to Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:JulianAlper. And this is my YouTube channel - https://www.youtube.com/user/JulianAlper1
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