When some days ago I visited the local Apennine pond where thousands montane frogs (Rana temporaria) breed each year I couldn’t believe to my eyes.
Instead of seeing the amazing congregation I expected I discovered that the season had still to come, but it’s not all folks! Tens of them where laying dead in the bottom of the small portion of pond already free from snow and ice. The situation wasn’t really a nice one, but as a naturalist I perceived that something could be told about that.
We live in a changing world, and animals like frogs are subject to climate changes. The weather is getting more and more unpredictable. The sun this year, as the year before, came and went early at the beginning of Spring. Montane frogs were caught in a grip of unexpected cold weather while they were already mating underwater. At the arrival of the new icy nights they weren’t able to exit and return to their overwintering quarters and stayed underwater. But there wasn’t enough free water for such cold nights…
The water began to turn into ice, the volume growing, removing free space for the frogs, that died by suffocation and squeezed under the weight of the icy water.
I then decided to take some images of this phenomenon and this one is my preferred one, cause in a single image it’s possible to see a big portion of the dead mass of frogs, the still big amount of snow and, with dark irony, the sunny warm weather that’s now melting the ice again…. too late for them.
Note about the images: all shots were taken inside my beloved Aveto Regional Park (a small but amazing park near my city, Genova) with a underwater equipment.