Maritime Aquarium seeks volunteers to help monitor neighborhood frog populations

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is recruiting citizen-scientist volunteers who will “toad-ily Kermit” to help with an important census of frog and toad populations in Connecticut.

An army of trained volunteers is needed to collect local data for a national program called “FrogWatch USA.” The effort is a collaboration between The Maritime Aquarium, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport and Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven.

Although it’s called “FrogWatch,” volunteers are asked to listen, not to watch, and to report what they hear in their neighborhoods this spring and summer.

You don’t have to know anything about frogs and toads and their different calls to sign up. That will be taught during upcoming training sessions presented live online on Wed., Feb. 24; Tues., March 2; and Thurs., March 25. Each training is from 7 to 8:30 p.m. You only need to participate in one.

The trainings are free to members of the three sponsoring organizations, or for a suggested donation from non-member families. (Proceeds will be split between the three organizations.)

“FrogWatch” volunteers are asked to regularly hop on down to a waterway or wetlands in their neighborhood a half-hour after sunset once or twice each week this spring and summer. During these 15-minute listening sessions, volunteers are asked to log the different kinds of frogs they hear making calls.

“Because of the regular commitment, volunteers should know of a pond or lake or wetland convenient to their home,” said Bridget Cervero, manager of the Aquarium’s Citizen Science programs. “Ideally, volunteers would be able to just walk a short ways down their street or even just listen from their yard, deck or porch.”

The trainings are for volunteers in Connecticut. Kids can help, but children 12 & older are recommended because, in summer, a half-hour after sunset can be after 9 p.m.

“FrogWatch USA” is a national citizen-science program of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) to help understand trends in frog and toad populations. These creatures play an important role in wetland ecosystems and are considered indicators of environmental health. Many previously abundant frog and toad populations have experienced dramatic declines both in the United States and around the world, and data collected through “FrogWatch” help scientists understand the scope, geographic scale and cause of these declines.

Advance registration is required for the trainings. Sign up and get more details at www.maritimeaquarium.org/citizen-science.