Frog changes color with changed surroundings

I really wish I’d taken a photo of this frog when I found her this noon, sheltering on the porch next to the wall. There were some beer 6-pack carriers there waiting return to the store and when I picked one up there was this big dark frog clinging to the side. She (well, she just seems like a “she”) was a very dark brown tinged with green all over, with some darker mottling on her back, and sparkling gold stripes above her eyes. I caught her up and put her in our 100-gallon pond, on the lotus and water hyacinth leaves.

This afternoon, here she is, transformed in color.

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The dark splotches on her rear are about the color that her entire body was, about six hours ago.

It was only recently that I learned frogs could do this, so now having seen it in action I had to talk about it. Apparently it’s an ability found in many species, and the frogs can change as a result of light, humidity, surroundings, or “mood”. Whatever that means. The frog changed and the researcher cannot see any objective alteration in environment so it’s put down to “mood”.

Fear or excitement makes many frogs and toads turn pale, but others, like the African clawed frog, darken when disturbed. Another African frog is normally green, but turns white in the heat of the day to reflect heat and keep cool. The tiny African arum frog is ivory white and lives in the white blossoms of the arum swamp lily. When the blossoms die, the frogs turn brown to match. from exploratorium.edu.

We think she’s probably a Pacific Tree Frog (Pseudacris regilla).

[Etymological note: Pseudacris from the Greek pseudes (false) + akris (locust) — alluding to the frogs’ song?; regilla from the Latin regilla (regal, splendid) — probably referring to the markings.]

Unclear on the basic concept: White House Press Secretary on Gulf oil spill

As President Obama made his tour of the Gulf region on Monday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters aboard Air Force One that BP would move forward in creating an escrow account to ensure, “that all the people who are affected by BP’s oil spill are made whole.”
from politicsdaily.com, June 14, 2010.

What kind of a disconnected nitwit can use the phrase “made whole” about this? Believe it or not, there are some things money can’t change. All the money in the world cannot turn back the clock and make the ocean clean, bring back to life the millions of dead creatures—the tiny ones we never see also suffered, also died, and from our myopic human standpoint they are important because they’re part of the web of life that makes shrimp for us to catch and eat.

This isn’t “just words”, this is a perversion of thinking that is at the root of our modern lostness. Minds so separated from the real “buzzing blooming confusion” of life, that they are hardly here in the same world with the oiled pelicans and the devastated fishermen. Yet like aliens from some distant galaxy they walk among us and their power is immense, to act in our world, control what we know, run our government like a puppet theatre.

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A dead jelly fish floats in oil in the Gulf of Mexico near Venice, LA. AP photo from Telegraph (UK).

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Hermit crabs struggle to cross a patch of oil on a barrier island near East Grand Terre Island, LA. AP photo from Telegraph (UK).

Some penguins to be listed under Endangered Species Act

from the Penguin News site,

4 June 2010

Legal settlement will protect seven penguin species at risk from global warming and fisheries (USA)

A federal judge has approved a settlement that requires the US federal government to finalise protections for seven penguin species under the Endangered Species Act. The court-ordered settlement results from a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network challenging the Obama administration’s failure to finalise its determination that these penguins warrant Endangered Species Act protection due to threats from climate change and commercial fisheries.
Read Center for Biological Diversity press release

While this is a justified action, it’s not clear what the practical results might be. The polar bear was listed under the ESA in May 2008 because of habitat loss from global warming. Yet Bush’s Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne “made clear several times during a press conference announcing the department’s decision that, despite his acknowledgement that the polar bear’s sea ice habitat is melting due to global warming, the ESA will not be used as a tool for trying to regulate the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for creating climate change.” For the bears, listing could have potential benefits of changed regulations governing activities in US territory (such as oil drilling) but action would be based on the direct impact on the ground, not the contribution of oil and drilling to climate change.

Last year the Scientific American blog stated the effects of ESA listing for these species of penguin:

Why protect penguins under the ESA if they don’t live in the U.S. or its territories? “Listing of penguins under the ESA would make import or export of the species illegal without an ESA permit,” Ward says [US Fish and Wildlife Service public affairs specialist Tamara Ward]. “Such permits are issued only if an activity has a conservation benefit and it is hoped listing may help focus international attention on the species conservation needs.” In addition, according to the CBD [Center for Biological Diversity], listing would also require federal agencies to ensure that any action carried out, authorized or funded by the U.S. government would not jeopardize the continued existence of the protected species.

Major threats to penguin species include overfishing and climate change. The latter causes loss of ice on which some species nest, and changes in currents which move fish and other prey to new areas of the sea—sometimes so far offshore that penguin parents are hampered in bringing back fish to feed the young. Oilspills and introduced terrestrial predators (rats, dogs, feral cats) can have devastating local effects.

Realistically, I think it will take a much greater disaster than the Gulf Oil spill to provide the political will for effective action on climate change and the overfishing/pollution of the oceans. Piecemeal wildlife protection is sometimes valuable, and ESA listing has symbolic importance (perhaps little else in this case), but where, where, is the “place to stand” for moving the world on these huge issues?

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African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus) oiled in a spill off the South African coast. Photo by Cape Times, Cape Town South Africa, from Penguin Conservation vol. 7(2).

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Little Blue Penguins (Eudyptula minor), at entrance to a nest burrow on Phillip Island, Australia. Photo by M. Kuhn, Creative Commons license.

What matters most to BP

This’ll fix things:

As for BP, it has taken steps to beef up its PR operation, in an attempt to limit the damage to its reputation. The company has recruited as head of the firm’s US media relations Anne Womack-Kolton, the former press secretary to Dick Cheney.

from this morning’s UK Guardian

True, the company’s public relations since the explosion have been terrible: suppressing and lying about things that will become known eventually anyway, and ridiculous efforts to play down the seriousness of the oil spill. Tony Hayward, BP CEO, “told Fox News sister network Sky News on Tuesday [May 18] that he is largely unconcerned:

I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest. It is impossible to say and we will mount, as part of the aftermath, a very detailed environmental assessment as we go forward. We’re going to do that with some of the science institutions in the U.S. But everything we can see at the moment suggests that the overall environmental impact of this will be very, very modest.

After BP has squandered any potential public credibility, the most silver-tongued revolving-door lobbyist-cum-government appointee (such as Ms. Womack-Kolton) will be hard pressed to reverse the tide. We all know which tide they really truly care most about, when it comes to the tide of financial-world and public opinion, vs. the tide of oil.

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Young heron dying in oil-soaked marsh. Photo by GERALD HERBERT / AP. Copyright by photographer and AP, not used with permission.