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The first egg mass has landed!

What an incredible 24 hours it has been! We arrived on the mountain top and began the trek into the area marked by our field team. These frogs are moving fast in this cracking weather – calling and depositing eggs right under our noses! It wasn’t long before we were on our bellies searching through the substrate for an elusive egg mass.

Me with Jet and Heather on the search. Photo by Damian Goodall

Boys on bellies searching through mud…. Photo by Damian Goodall

The field team, consisting of Jet and Heather, have been incredible! Whilst we’ve been busy setting up the ‘Baw Baw Bunker’ at the zoo, these guys have had their ears to the ground (literally) trying to pinpoint the exact location of the males in the underground seepage lines they call home. This has been a massive help for Damian and I as we came straight up from the zoo and were ready to hit the ground running knowing exactly where to search for the egg masses from the moment we arrived. Actually it wasn’t that fast… We spent a whole day checking site after site looking for an egg mass, while some of the male frogs looked on quizzically pondering why we were searching through their homes!

Curious male. Photo by Damian Goodall

We were about to call it a day when we decided to search one last site for an egg mass. We saw the fluro flagging tape that identified another promising location (Jet and Heather marked each spot that they heard calling males over recent days). Moving aside the ferns and fallen debris I maneuvered my arm into the underground, trying to delicately move aside sludgy sections of substrate. I was losing hope when I decided to check one last crevice and that’s when I felt it – a jelly blob a little bit smaller than a flat tennis ball. It felt firm and a little crispy like cellophane on top.  I scooped it up and as I brought it up to the surface it revealed the egg mass we were all hoping for – a big one! Egg masses can range in size and often have between 60 to 150 fertilized eggs inside. Frogs have to produce them in such large numbers because through predation and all the other trials of life many of them don’t make it to adulthood.

What’s under here??? Photo by Damian Goodall

Egg Mass!!! Photo by Damian Goodall

No one really knows how many do go on to contribute to the next population by growing up and reproducing themselves but in all likelihood it is a very small percentage. So basically the bigger and healthier the egg mass, the better chance we have of nurturing each one through their life cycle and into adult frogs!

So I scooped up the egg mass and popped it into our special esky to maintain the cool temperature the eggs need along with a little bit of water to keep it moist.  Then it was back to the car and straight back to Melbourne Zoo with no time to waste!

We arrived back at the zoo and set up the eggs up in the bunker (giving high fives to staff along the way). The Frog team will keep a close eye on the eggs whilst Damian and I head straight back to the mountain in the hope that we can collect another two egg masses! Exciting times! I’ll touch base again soon, but in the meantime spread the word! #canyouhearthecall #Bawbawfrog #fightingextinction

Sarah said

This is great news!! The kids at school have been learning a lot about the Baw Baw Frog as it lives in our local area. We were wondering whether anyone from the Zoo team would be able to come and chat to the kids on their next adventure about what they do when searching for the Baw Baw Frog eggs and what happens after they have grown in captivity. Thanks, Staff and Students at Rawson Primary School :)

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Rick Hammond, Zoos Victoria said

Hi Sarah!
great to hear the kids at Rawson are getting behind the baw Baw frog!
Our frog team have brought back 2 egg masses now so they won’t be going out to the field again for quite a while. If you can skype we could do a video call with you from our Baw Baw bunker here at Melbourne Zoo? Feel free to email me at actwild@zoo.org.au and we can organise something

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