Frogs seem commonplace, but their future is surprisingly uncertain. All sorts of things — climate change, invasive species, chytridiomycosis (an infectious fungal disease) — could wipe them off the map, making their chirps and ribbits a thing of the past.
Given those threats, there's no time like the present to learn about these animals. And "Frogs: Dazzling and Disappearing," an exhibition at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif., is a great place to start. It's a celebration of all things frog, from their history to their staggering diversity to the life cycle that takes them from egg to tadpole to adult.
Interactive exhibits, informational displays and big projections help portray the diversity of frog life. There are about 6,800 species of frogs and toads. Among those species are the cute — such as the desert rain frog, which had a brief brush with Internet fame thanks to its adorable squeaks — and the colorful, such as the brilliant-blue poison dart frog, which chases and wrestles other members of its own species.
Famous frogs and ordinary ones have something in common: the possibility of extinction. Amphibians are declining more rapidly than birds or mammals, and scientists don't quite know why. Habitat destruction is thought to be the biggest threat, but so are such factors as the pet trade. The exhibition explores potential reasons for amphibian declines and looks at conservation success stories that could point to a way forward.
A frog frenzy would be nothing without a few live frogs, and anyone who visits the aquarium by the end of March can see some amazing amphibians in action. For the rest of us, there's a downright ribbeting online exhibition at the aquarium's website.