So it occurred to me after finishing that last post that I never actually explained why the Red Frog Beach is called as such. But, as I’m sure you are able to guess, it’s because of the red frogs that live there! Now at one point in time the sands of the particular beach known as Red Frog Beach were completely littered with the frogs. Now however, you will be hard pressed to see one at all. It’s not only that the little buggers have become exploited and are dying out because of people trying to handle them and thereby poison them to their deaths (death of the frog, not the human) but it’s also hard to see them because of their absolutely tiny size!
The red frogs of Isla Bastimentos are about the size of a nickel to a quarter, are red (duh!) and are speckled with black dots all over their body making them look like a strawberry! Each time I walked through the jungle from the hostel to the beach or back again, I searched every surface I could just to spot one of the tiny beauties. On the second day there, I was blessed enough to spot one. They are quite a sight to behold and it’s really a good thing I “hunted” them as vigorously as I did, otherwise I’m sure I never would have spotted on, even if given a month there! They really are that tiny and hard to spot!! Sadly every time that I was walking through with my camera I never could find any, but at least I got in one live viewing!
So, I’m going to jump up on a soap box for a few minutes here just in case someone reading this does visit the area. I implore you to at all costs to NOT handle, pick up, or touch the red frogs. In addition, I strongly suggest you don’t even pay others for pictures with the frogs. Let me explain further:
The Red Frogs, like most other frogs are quite delicate in nature. They basically breathe through their skin and literally absorb their environment into their bodies. So, while they are not poisonous to humans to the touch, we are poisonous to them!! Sunscreen, soap, oils, hair product, our lunch, literally any residue we may have on our hands is absorbed into their body and can potentially poison them to death. It is in part due to people (tourists) handling the cute critters that they no longer in bountiful numbers and are dying out.
Another thing I would strongly suggest against is even to pay for pictures of you holding the frogs. Children, yes children, would go around to tourists with a red frog or two that they had caught and ask if the tourist wanted a picture with it. The tourist, not knowing (hopefully) that they were #1 exploiting the amphibian and #2 potentially killing or aiding in the amphibians death by holding it, would pay the children for a lovely vacation picture of them holding the frogs. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about supporting local economies, however I believe there is a more sound way to do so. And I’m not the only one who thinks so as there was a posting at the hostel about this very situation occurring (children selling picts with frogs to tourists) and imploring tourists to not take part!! Kudos to Bocas Bound!!!
Ok, I’m off my soap box now… And by any means, I’m not saying I’m perfect or that I do everything right by the environment, but I do try to do my part as best as possible. And for this particular area, not touching the frogs was my way of doing just that.
One last little bit of interesting information… Strawberry Red Frogs are not poisonous to humans to the touch. They DO have poison on their skin, however if that poison does not get into our blood stream, then they are not poisonous to us. Hence why you could (please DON’T though!!) touch or pick them up without being harmed… Local people apparently would also eat them and suffer no consequences from the poisoned skin of the frog because the stomach acid would kill off the poison. However if punctured with something that had brushed against the skin of the frog, you’re a gonner! Due to their ability to poison people if punctured, they are part of the poison-dart group of frogs used by indigenous people as weapons if needed. Pretty cool stuff…