Tuesday, March 20, 2012

sea nettles and frog ponds

I went to the aquarium in Boston Friday. (Did any other aquarium have a band playing Celtic music the day before St. Patricks?) They have a fine exhibit of jellies.

                           jelly fish, New England Aquarium

As mentioned in my last post, when I was a child, I lived on the Severn River (in Maryland, not England) an estuary of the Chesapeake Bay. Every summer when the water warmed, the sea nettles (a species of jelly fish) came in. We scorned those kids who had community pools that looked like chlorinated concrete shoeboxes, when we could swim forever. I can still feel the sting and prickle of the nettles, a small price to pay for the vast, deep, ever-changing life of a river.

North American Sea Nettles, New England Aquarium

I enjoyed everything about the aquarium--adorable penguins, gorgeous tropical fish, goofy blowfish, massive sea turtles...but was particularly interested in a look at specific habitats such as salt marshes and mangrove swamps. They made me think of our frog pond in the Catskills.

                                            frog pond, Andes NY

On my evening walks in the spring and summer I look forward to the sounds of the frogs croaking and splashing as I near the pond. Approximately 1/3 of the world's frogs, toads and salamanders face extinction due to pollution, pesticides, climate change and habitat destruction. Frogs, with their permeable skin and land/water life cycle are extremely vunerable to changes in the environment. This sensitivity makes them an early warning system for ecological decline. Every spring, when I walk to the pond I am afraid that they will not be there, and I feel a palpable sense of relief when I hear the first deep rib-bit and the splash of a frog who wants nothing do with a human.

                      Madagascar tree frog, New England Aquarium

African bull frog, New England Aquarium

18 comments:

  1. Hello Jen:
    This post has put us in mind of the Aquarium in Brighton, now renamed the Sea Life Centre, which we have never visited but feel having read this inspired to do so when we are next back there.

    What you say about frogs, toads, etc. is so very worrying. We can never quite understand why the environment is not at the top of every government agenda worldwide.

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    1. Dear Jane and Lance,

      I always enjoy aquariums. I've been to some small regional ones that are wonderful. The worlds within water are always interesting.

      There have been many great strides in environmental protection--I still remember when rivers burned; but it often seems like a case of one step forward two steps back, and always that the government's priorities are wrong.

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  2. Jelly fish have always kind of creeped me out since we spent a summer at the beach at Cape Canaveral. (Is it Kennedy now?) Anyway, my mother and aunt were so adamant and loud about watching out for jelly fish because there sting could kill you that I have avoided them since. Actually, I think they were man of wars. Do you get the sense this was a long time ago? :)
    They are so intriguing to watch though.
    I just love listening to the frogs and crickets around here.

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    1. There are jelly fish that have very strong poisons and I can see how you would think them creepy. I know I wouldn't be as sanguine about them now as I was when I was young. The aquarium had a wonderful exhibit of jellies--and they are really lovely and ethereal when viewed that way.

      I too love the summer music of crickets and frogs.

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  3. I love aquariums. reminds me that I still haven't given going to the zoo another try.

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    1. Petra--Whenever I go to an aquarium or zoo (a good one, the bad ones are too sad) I always ask myself why I don't do it more often!

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  4. Jen,
    the photos of the jfish are gorgeous! I don't think there's anything more reasuring then the sound of frogs in the night.
    There's just something about their "singing that makes me feel that all is right with the world. So sad to think there may come a time when that won't be the case.
    Rebecca

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    1. Rebecca--the jellyfish exhibits were enchanting. I feel the same way you do about frogs.

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  5. To see jellyfish in aquarium is relaxing. I like it, though I have bitter memory that I was hurt by them in the sea when I was child. As for frogs I also remember that many of them were croaking in rice field in my childhood. I came to notice thier crisis according to your writing.It's so sorry. But any way your weekend sonds great, Jen!

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    1. Haricot--I love the image of frogs in a rice field! That would make a wonderful painting.

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  6. We do have the Blue ring and box jellyfish in Australia that are deadly, but so many that are harmless also. Whale

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    1. Until recently I never knew there were so many kinds of jelly fish. Amazing that they can be deadly!

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    1. It was, Demie. Such a mysterious world.

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  8. I am always sure it is Spring when I hear those toads croaking in the pond across the way from my backdoor. I also love to guess the birds that are singing and calling all day. I can hear and see, cardinal, robin, tufted titmouse, junco, sparrows of all kinds and chicka dees, and finches, morning doves are so dreamy to hear in the evening too

    Happy first week of Spring ! Jen

    -KAT-

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    1. Kat, just seeing your list of birds makes me happy! I love this time of year.

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  9. i didn't realise that about frogs, being a barometer of eco-changes.

    growing up, we owned a pool, and our times in there were wonderful, endless hours, lips turning blue. but we also visited the lakes and rivers. and these were worlds, mysteries. thrilling and adventurous.

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Your comments make me happy. Thanks for taking the time.