Strawberry Dart Frogs of Bocas del Toro

Written by on January 16, 2015 in Videos: Documentaries with 0 Comments

The Bocas del Toro Caribbean archipelago to the north of Panama is home to an amazing variety of Strawberry Dart frogs, Oophaga pumilio – each of the main islands having a unique color morph.  Colors range from red to blue and orange to green, making it one of the most polymorphic of any animal species in the world.  Like all poison dart frogs their bright colors warn potential predators of their toxicity.  Researchers have found that even though these frogs are the same species, there is a direct correlation between brightness of color and the quantity of skin toxins they can produce – red being the most poisonous, green the least.  Scientists believe each island color morph will eventually evolve into separate Oophaga species.

One of the most spectacular varieties lives on Isla Bastimentos and even has a beach named after it – Red Frog Beach.  Measuring just 20mm in length, Oophaga pumilio ‘Bastimentos’ is in fact one of the largest Strawberry Dart frogs, its bright red body covered with black leopard spots warning predators and tourists alike this it’s also one of the most poisonous.  The growing ecotourism inevitably puts new pressures on its habitat but with the island surrounded by a 20-year-old national marine park, protecting manatees and sea turtles, conservation is on people’s minds.  Its bold behaviour also makes it one of the most popular Oophaga’s to keep and breed in captivity.

This BBC clip includes video of 8 of these beautiful color morphs.

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