Something fishy in our water…


I'm not feeling very well...

There’s something funny happening to the frogs in our pond. I mean, I wouldn’t mind – but that’s our drinking water, that is. Fifty of the buggers – dead.

A couple of years ago I sent one off to Glasgow University so that they could work out what was wiping them out. That was the first year I noticed a problem – and at that time there were 400 little corpses, all littered about at the waters edge.

When I say ‘pond’, I mean Loch, of course …it takes twenty minutes to walk around the shore of the peaty water of our loch which has tumbled down from Heather clad hills above, on which there is no industry of any kind. You couldn’t find fresher, healthier, more organic water anywhere. Well, up until the frogs started dying in it.

I’ll tell you what’s happening to them – but don’t read this bit whilst trying to eat breakfast: It starts with their back legs …the skin changes from greeny-brown to a spotted light-blue, and at the same time the limb begins to dissolve until nothing of them is left but the skin – empty, like a miniature pair of spotted pyjama-bottoms swaying about in the current. But get this: at that stage they are still ALIVE. The front half of them remains healthy right up until the moment when the disease reaches the anus and their digestive tract, then everything just sort of comes undone. Only then do they peg it still with the torso propped up on a healthy pair of front legs, right at the waters-edge, head and eyes popping out above, as though they were relaxing before going for another underwater swim when the sun gets too hot. Which probably won’t be any time soon.

The people from Glasgow University sent their specimen away to London. The people in London wrote back to say it was ‘Otter-predation’. And they know a thing or two down there, in Regents Park …about Otters. Apparently the Otters were gently unzipping the leg skin without harming the torsos, eating the little leggies out of them, and then releasing the newly paraplegic frogs to get on with the rest of their lives as best as they could. Which was an eye-opener for me because whenever I’ve seen an Otter eating something I’ve been shocked by the blood-lust and brutality with which they kill things. It makes King Herod look like Mother Theresa – honestly it does.

Otter Predation. Imagine – people get paid for that kind of thing.  Are you allowed a second opinion if you’re not happy with the diagnosis of your dead frog?

If you happen to have a degree in amphibious diseases; or you’re a keen amateur; or you’re not scientific in any way but you used to enjoy watching the Muppetts, and you’ve got an idea of what it could be – I’d love to hear from you. Only my tea is beginning to taste a bit funny.

Justin is an unwilling adventurer


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13 Responses to Something fishy in our water…

  1. Ali says:

    Justin, Like you describe the problems and symptoms, I think it must be sharks… Very common around Islay, especially the frog back leggies eating ones! I will investigate this closer in July when I have my scientific equipment with me!

  2. justintyers says:

    Hi Ali –
    I’ve got to be honest, I never thought of sharks. That’s a very useful lead. I can’t wait to get you on the case in July.

  3. stickitoffee says:

    There aren’t any french chefs around opening a restaurant are there??

    Hmmmm back legs changing colour and disappearing ~ of course that must be exactly the way otters prefer their frogs?!!

    • justintyers says:

      You might be on to something there stickitoffee because we used to have an infestation of snails in our garden, too, a few years back; the white walls of our house were spotted with them – but they’re gone too. I didn’t mind it when they went, though…

  4. stickitoffee says:

    you could have our snails if you wanted!!!!!!!!!

    like the new avatar!

  5. justintyers says:

    Can you cook them first? Avatar – you made me do it…!

  6. stickitoffee says:

    1. snails not allowed in my kitchen

    2. I protest m’lord! I merely commented on what I could see in the previous avatar!

    • justintyers says:

      Thanks for those links stickitoffee – hmmm, there seems to be loads of diseases waiting to wipe frogs out. They don’t stand a chance. The disease ‘my’ frogs have got is a bit like leprosy, I imagine …as you often see a discarded limb.

  7. stickitoffee says:

    not so nice! dont think i fancy a dip in that pond!

  8. Ali says:

    Which distillery uses this pond because my legs feel sore… 🙂

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