Members of the Eel River Recovery Project will help a University of California, Berkeley researcher to collect yellow-legged frog eggs near Benbow Dam and relocate them to safer areas in the river system on Sunday, May 15.
According to an ERRP press release, the egg masses are currently located near the dam’s foundations, which means that thousands of tadpoles are at risk since the dam’s abutments are scheduled to be removed next month by the North Coast Redwoods District of the California State Parks Department.
The researcher, Dr. Sarah Kupferberg, is working "to make sure that there are no yellow-legged frog tadpoles [in harm’s way] when deconstruction begins, due to permit requirements of the California State Parks Department,” ERRP's release said.
A similar relocation effort in the same basic spot earlier this month apparently paid big dividends. “A total of 35 yellow-legged frog egg masses were relocated, with each cluster having about 2,000 eggs each. Consequently, over 70,000 tadpoles were removed from harm’s way,” the release continued.
After collection had taken place, five volunteers with the recovery project took the egg masses downstream in large plastic tubes or upstream in kayaks. “Sites chosen for egg relocation were in areas where there were other yellow-legged frog eggs deposited,” the release explained.
While the yellow-legged frog is doing well in the Eel River Basin, in many other river systems in California its numbers are on the decline. In some areas the frog has disappeared altogether.
Yellow-legged frogs do not croak. Instead, according to the release, “males make mating sounds to attract females while underwater. The male has strong forearms and adhesive thumbs and rides on the back of the female downstream to an appropriate site for depositing eggs.”
“Shallow edge waters with low current are chosen to reduce the risk of predation by fish and to allow a high rate of fertilization,” the release added.
Sunday’s relocation effort is set to begin at 10 a.m. Those wishing to volunteer or observe can contact Kupferberg at (510) 367-4546. Information and a link to a video of the relocation earlier this month is available at www.eelriverrecovery.org and on ERRP’s Facebook page.