I came to Maine Coast Semester for many reasons, but amphibians were not one of them. I was oblivious to their whole presence on the East Coast, and I live in New Jersey. We played lots of ringette on our “Frog Pond” in the winter, but it wasn’t until recently that I found out it wasn’t just a cute name and had actual frogs in it. I live in Orchard Cabin, which is right next to the pond, and one night, I hear this high-pitched screeching out of my window. I asked Team Science about it the next day, and learned about Spring Peeper Frogs and their powerful vocals. Along with Wood Frogs, Green Frogs, and Salamanders, Peepers spend the winter in the forest, but travel back to freshwater pools in the spring to breed.
That afternoon, I went on a little exploration and found SO many frogs starfishing on the surface of the water, and even caught a couple; but, I noticed that there were no salamanders. In class, we learned that they typically only migrate on hot, rainy nights called “Big Nights,” so we hypothesized that they hadn’t arrived yet. A couple nights later, Chloe, our Science teacher, announced that it was raining…Big Night had arrived. Despite all our homework, about half the semester and I left study hours and dressed head to toe in waterproof gear. We put on our headlamps and reflective vests, looking very professional, and journeyed out.
The frog pond was crawling with amphibians, it was truly magical. We observed Spotted Salamanders swimming up to the surface to breathe, and we watched them crawl their way to the water. We got to hold them and it was debatably the best nature experience I have had at Chewonki. They are such cute, astounding, and reclusive creatures, only ever spotted (ha! pun) during these few special weeks in spring. I have never felt so lucky to be in the right place at the right time, and the amphibians have inspired me to study them for my Natural History project. I have spent the last bunch of weeks raising Wood Frog tadpoles and studying frog embryogenesis, and I owe it all to “Big Night” and these amazing animals.
Katherine (Kate) Yachimski, Ridgewood High School, Ridgewood, NJ