Environment

Citizen scientists catch cane toad in Catalina creek

Sharon Kelley11 May 2020
The Benjamin family, Council staff and the Eurobodalla Natural History group pose by roadside.

The Benjamin family (far right) with Eurobodalla Shire Council staff and members of the Eurobodalla Natural History Society in February 2020. Photo: Supplied.

The Benjamin family of Catalina, in Batemans Bay, played a very valuable role as citizen scientists when they identified and trapped a cane toad in the creek behind their home in February.

The Eurobodalla Shire Council’s invasive species coordinator, Paul Martin, was called in. He brought a professional frog expert with him after the Benjamin family heard the cane toad in the creek which backs onto their Catalina property.

Thinking clearly, the Benjamins recorded the cane toad’s call and were able to attract and catch it the following night using the recording. The professional frog expert was then brought in once the male cane toad was captured by the Benjamin family.

Eurobodalla Shire Council – working with NSW Local Land Services to survey the area – conducted four intensive surveys of the Catalina creeks and waterways and established the cane toad was likely a lone invader.

Mr Martin praised the Benjamin family for their quick work, saying it was a great example of citizen science protecting the shire.

“We found hundreds of native frogs, which is great, but no sign of any other cane toads,” he said.

“We’ve had some reports of cane toads in the shire, but so far they have all turned out to mostly be native frogs. Bibron’s toadlet can superficially look like a juvenile cane toad, as can Peron’s tree frog. We’ve had quite a few reports of those guys.”

Mr Martin urged residents to remain vigilant and to report any unusual sightings or calls, but not to kill frogs they may find.

“A lot of our tree frogs are actually brown and they don’t look like those green tree frogs you see on postcards. They’re really special little frogs so we don’t want people killing them.

“You can get the Frog ID app on your phone and record their call, or you can take a photograph and send it to us. With the climate warming up, cane toads could establish a population here. We were very lucky this was a male – a female can lay a staggering 30,000 eggs at a time.”

It is thought the cane toad hitchhiked into the Catalina area.

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