If you Google “Sahara Sands” you will find various businesses, but you won’t find anything about the patch of State (NJ) owned land I visited last Tuesday evening.
A “frog slog” is a specialized nature walk. This one was sponsored by the Great Egg Harbor River Watershed Association, and took place as darkness fell. Around 16 people of varied ages attended. Most (but not all) were dressed for swampy conditions and insect pests. Many carried nets, and there were two portable aquaria.
We were told the walk would be conducted on the principles of CPR. Not the usual medical CPR, but rather
Frogs are, after all, vertebrates, and some are protected by law. We spent a few minutes listening to recordings of frog calls.
We walked along a sand road and crossed through woods to a large, shallow pond. Those wearing high boots slogged out into the pond. The excitement began almost immediately. It was a perfect frog hunting night – warm and humid. Five or six species could be heard singing loudly at any one time. Various specimens were netted and photographed, along with insects, insect larvae and tadpoles.
On our way back, a large bullfrog was caught. In the net, its familiar deep call (jug-o-rum, jug-o-rum) changed to a pathetic whimper, sounding like a human child! We turned him loose, and off he swam.
WHY a frog walk? Because frogs are interesting, ecologically valuable and threatened by development. A frog walk is also a way of asserting the importance of Sahara Sands and other places that support wildlife like frogs. One of the “competing uses” for this land is recreation using off road vehicles (ORVs). Such use is incompatible with protection of wildlife. ORVs tear up the marshes and destroy native plants. The damage is largely irreversible.
At Sahara Sands the conflict between these two uses has not been resolved, and it HAS been politicized.
The more people who understand frogs and enjoy this wonderful PUBLICLY OWNED natural site, the better.
Photos by W Cromartie.