Is the wrapping or what’s inside most important?
In the case of the glass frog above, If you were looking at it from the bottom, you would actually be able to see the heart, liver and intestines. I can never get over the gift of seeing the inner perfection of this little miracle.
The transparency of glass frogs provides a gift to themselves as camouflage, but it’s a bother for predators who can’t see them.
Some people feel protected and more like themselves when covered rather than exposed. The gift of disguise helped this Frog Person become very outgoing and friendly.
His antics in turn were a great gift to a delighted five-year-old girl, thrilled with a talking frog.
My friend had the gift of inspiration to dress up. This warmed my heart, so I naturally feature him and his pal, Winky, on these accidentally discovered, unpainted ornaments. They look like A Frog House, sort of. While not great works of art (or quite done), working on them gives me the gift of relaxing and having fun during my work week.
Brightly colored frogs usually are poisonous, so their skin is a warning gift to predators to stay away from them. This is a gift to look alike frogs as well, who are left alone even if they aren’t actually inedible. These two blue dart frog likenesses in the form of 6″ x 6″ paintings might in themselves be great gifts.
The background of each is from a photo I took at a wagon wheel factory in Costa Rica. Visiting this colorful artisan shop was an alternate gift to SAVE THE FROGS! travelers. The original plan was to go to Tortuguero, but the roads were closed due to a storm on the coast. Flexibility, resilience, survival against all odds, are among the valuable lesson gifts frogs have to give.
Above all, if we retain the gifts of thanks, awe and wonder, and not give in to the demoralizing forces of greed and rage in our world, we are likely to have a happy life in spite of those factors.
If you would like to share your own joy and love of life, bring your young at heart to find gifts in our collection, including my newly reprinted children’s book, Froggy Family’s First Frolic, frog art work, cards, and frogabilia. All are in A Frog House, 65 State Street, Pittsford Village, NY, located on the Erie Canal (third house on the left, heading east on the towpath from Schoen Place) We are there on Sunday afternoons from Noon to 5 pm.
Saturdays until Christmas, and first Friday in December, you will find me, the book, cards, and art work at Main Street Artists, Suite 458, in the Hungerford Building, 1115 East Main Street, Rochester. Many of my fellow artists will also value your visit.
AND, I just learned that today is GIVING TUESDAY. Anyone donating more than $50 to the Froggy Family Fabulous Foundation is entitled to a copy of my next children’s book, Froggy Family’s Fine Feelings, COMING SOON.
©2018 Margot Fass | 527 Linden Street, Rochester, NY 14620
FROG HOUSE GRAND OPENING
Thursday, June 28th Mangrove Sunrise and Going Home
Today we got up at 5:30 am for a dawn pre breakfast boat ride to Black Turtle Cove, to see the sunrise, mangroves,
and maybe, some turtles.
Mangroves can provide fresh water for themselves through a desalination process.
Turtles do the same, by expelling salt through their nostrils and retaining the less saline water. One female mates with five males for 2 hours plus each, and this feat has to be accomplished while swimming in the water. Normally, a turtle can stay underwater for 2 or 3 hours, but the energy required in reproduction requires them to breathe every 5 seconds.
In 4 or 5 weeks after mating, females go to the beach to lay their eggs. Compared to land tortoises, which live for as long as 200 years, water turtles live a more human lifespan of 80 years. If this activity was going on during our visit, we were unaware of it. While others were pushing me out of the way to peer overboard, I simply enjoyed the peacefulness of the visit.
Then it was back to the boat, back to the shore, back to the airport and connecting flights. Good bye, Galapagos and Ecuador!
(Editor’s note; by the time this last blog is published, on June 5th, I will be preparing for my next ecotour with SAVE THE FROGS! to Costa Rica, and some relaxation time with my friend who lives near Tamarindo. Look for more in the fall!)
Tuesday, June 27th A Motley Crew
This morning’s hike was a dry landing at a flight of very steep rocky stairs, known as Prince Phillip’s Steps. We were greeted at the top by a mockingbird, singing a happy welcoming song.
As daunting as it was to go up the staircase, we were rewarded for our climb with the sight of innumerable boobies: Brown, Hooded, Masked, Nazca, blue footed and red footed, single, married, divorced (they don’t mate for life) and children, in various stages of development. Apparently there are 150,000 pairs on Genovese. The juveniles have grey or white feet, and some, called morphs, never develop color nor mate. The color in male feet is a sign of very high testosterone, and male boobies are known as the most aggressive birds in the world.
The Nazca mother lays two eggs a few days apart, but the second is only insurance, in case the first dies.
If the first chick lives, it inevitably pushes the second out of the circle the mother has drawn. A chick out of the circle, neglected by both parents, is not fed, and will die of exposure, starvation and/or predation by other birds. Once airborne, they can fly as far as Panama, and do not come back for 5 or more years, mating at age 8.
Nazca Boobies are named for the giant geological plate “conveyer belt” which carries the Galapagos Islands southeast at a very slow but significant speed.
We also saw gulls, herons, pelicans, frigates (Both sexes are pirates. Males have a big red balloon gular sac and gobble when they find a female they choose to attract) and albatross.
The mating dance of albatross is mesmerizing, and goes on for hours, a tender fencing duel with their beaks. Of course, this is when my camera died for the day. These big birds do mate for life.
Although the water was murky in the morning, I got to see one new species of fish, the Moorish Idol. Next year I want to get an underwater camera!
In the afternoon, I had started reading Paul Stewart’s book, Galapagos, The Islands That Changed the World, which Matthew had discovered and just finished. While the others went to the beach for a hot sunny walk, and then snorkeling in choppier and murkier waters than in the morning, I relaxed under the canopy on the deck and read. It was a delightful and educational way to end our last full day on board the Cachalote, and gave me more to fill in some blanks when I got home.
To celebrate, all the crew dressed again in their uniforms, as they did the first night we got on board, and we had a fine cocktail to toast with and another excellent meal with modifications for their vegan passenger.
Monday, June 26th Life from Death
At 1 o’clock from the white ship, there is a large flat rock around which we later would swim. Just below that, at 2:30 from the white ship, you can barely see a tiny little sliver of a boat with hairline masts.
That mere toothpick traversed a minute portion of the Pacific yesterday and carried all 15 of us from Floreana.
Travel and transportation of living things is amazing in and of itself. All of the life on these islands, created exclusively through volcanic eruptions from under the sea, traveled also by sea or by air to differentiate into the endemic species we can now enjoy.
The Galapagos islands all sit on a underwater tectonic plate, which is moving southeast. The younger islands are northwest, the older southeast, and either have disappeared underwater, or will eventually.
Santiago is an younger island than Santa Cruz. To look at a relatively recent lava flow is to appreciate not only the loss of life that might have occurred during an eruption, but the difficulty of life coming again.
The surface heaves, cracks, explodes into minivolcanos (driblets), and/or exposes levels below.
The hot and quickly cooled lava forms in thick puddles and rope like twists which would belie the possibility of any foothold. Then, lo! A tiny seed of lichen blown in from afar, and manages to cling to an apparently impenetrable surface.
Little by little, this seed sprouts short fine stalks, and puts down long strong roots, gradually crumbling the rock. Water, both from rain and the sea, also wears the hard surface down.
The red “soil” is the result of a combination of iron, calcium and potassium in volcanic spatter.
Some accents of green can be seen, and occasionally the start of a cactus.
Since Cactus provide water and food to the vegetarian land Iguana, and Iguana can survive the cold, hot and dry conditions of a lava field home, it is no surprise that they flourish together, as on the older island of Santa Cruz.
Every lava cactus has a unique shape,
every Iguana a unique personality,
and every Iguana is uniquely coupled to another.
Iguanas mate when they are 11 to 14 years old, and live for 70 years. These prehistoric characters have been around for some 300,000 years longer than the islands themselves. Once they become isolated, like other forms of life, they evolve into differentiated, endemic species, such as pink iguanas on San Isabella, among 10 others throughout the islands.
Iguanas are hunted by hawks, which sit at the entrances to their caves, but the reptiles often manage to elude their predators by having more than one entrance to the same home.
Snorkeling twice that day yielded some new species and variations thereof: hogfish, puffers, sargeant majors, angels, damsels, balloon, trigger, chubs and sea cucumbers, in addition to many of the fish seen before. There were all kinds of starfish, bright blue, bright red, “chocolate chip”, either alone among other marine life, or scattered about like the night stars on an otherwise barren sandy ocean floor. I saw sea urchins of various types, and some beautiful intact sand dollars. The perfect ending to our day was going into a small cove at dusk, and seeing two groups of three penguins! It was definitely the highlight of the whole adventure. And of course, no working camera!
Sunday, June 25th Floreana Boobies
Because of their incredible fecundity and destructiveness to the environment, 150 thousand non-native goats were shot from helicopters by a New Zealand company, which in turn made off with 10 million dollars for the job, or $70 per goat.
While it was important to restore the natural habitat, it wasn’t the poor goats’ fault. So many factors go into saving our planet. Despite a keen interest in doing what I can to avoid harm, I follow only a fraction of them. It is much harder for a farmer who wants goat milk or meat to drink, eat or sell, to appreciate the importance of conservation, or for conservationists to appreciate exploiting animals for food. So, the alternative is to shoot them?
Fortunately, the boobies are doing well. Thirty percent of Galapagos boobies live on Floreana. We saw blue footed, red footed, brown and sterile white footed boobies. They are, like most other wildlife in the Island, calm and unflappable as they go about their daily business, either gazing curiously at or ignoring their visitors.
We snorkeled before lunch from the beach, Black Turtle Cove. It is strongly suggested not to leave a beach towel lying out, because sea lions will sneak up and appropriate them.
After lunch, we snorkeled off the shore of Post Office Bay, near a famous diving site called Devil’s Crown. There are two major points of the rock between which we were not allowed to go, because of sharp underwater spikes rising from the ocean floor and joining the two.
The submerged volcano provides great snorkeling, and I was glad I was not the only one having trouble swimming against strong currents on the other side of the rock. All of us were given a Zodiac lift back to the up-current side to explore the second face of this underwater haven.
The small white tip shark appeared for me once or twice, and there were more marine turtles and sea lions. Sting rays and large sharks did not show up during snorkeling times, but we did see them at night time swimming alongside the boat. Sharks evolved from Sting Rays, which the sharks now feed on. Sort of like politics.
On board there was a book on water wildlife, and while my greatest pleasure was simply watching the many shapes, colors, sizes and characteristic movements of the fish, it was somewhat satisfying to discover I had seen many species each of grunts, snappers, parrot fish, surgeon and wrasses, to name a few.
The crew seemed to enjoy helping me practice Spanish. Carlos definitely was the smiliest and happiest among them. You could always tell when Carlos was laughing from the back of the boat. As first mate, when Captain Guillerme was resting, Carlos was in charge.
It was a disappointment to learn that even the sailing yachts primarily use their motors to go from place to place, because we had chosen the Cachalote to try to be a little greener, and sailing is fun!
The breezes this day were going with us, so that at least the front mast sails could assist with the travel. It was deliciously relaxing and wonderful to be on deck for the only one of our six days on board using wind for power. And so we were off to Santa Cruz and Santiago.
For the thousands of miles frigates fly, you can’t blame them for hitching a ride on ships. Can you see them in the first photo? Basically, they are thieves, often snatching fish from the very stomach of other birds who have gone to the trouble of making the catch. The pleasures and perils of life are the same the world over, so why are we surprised or shocked at politics as usual? We can only do our own personal best.