The Great Tadpole Rescue

Hurricane Francis came into Georgia with a roar. Francis was the fourth hurricane of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season. In early September, Francis dumped a deluge of seven inches of rain and blew gusts of thirty to forty miles per hour wind on southeast Coastal Georgia. The hurricane skirted by the coast only leaving us rain, rain, and more rain. I was home with my wife and kids watching our road flood from all the accumulated rain. The storm took out loads of trees limbs, so I was busy sawing up downed limbs before taking them to the dump. The schools closed early and work had a delayed opening due to the weather. My three kids loved the accumulated rainwater in our neighborhood as they played with their boats, boogie boards, and floaties in the flooded road, ditches, and puddles.

There was so much rain that it took a long time for the water to drain off and dry out. The frogs took advantage of the situation and got busy filling the puddles with frog eggs that quickly became large masses of tadpoles. The clear puddles were colored black with so many tadpoles. Once the storm passed the sun came out with a vengeance drying up the puddles that dotted the landscape. My three kids were quick to notice the tadpoles’ temporary environment was drying up quickly putting their lives in jeopardy. My young sons and daughter were concerned for the tadpoles’ life expectancy.

My son said, “Dad, we have to save the tadpoles, they are dying.”

So, we initiated the Great Tadpole Rescue as it became known. We made it part of my son Caleb’s Cub Scout wildlife habitat project. We began scooping up the masses of tightly packed tadpoles with red plastic Dixie cups in the remaining puddles as they dried up quickly. We filled a bucket with tadpoles before dragging it to the lake, next to our house.  I got the job of dumping the twenty to twenty-five pound buckets of tadpoles into the seventy-five acre lake. Some of the puddles dried out so quickly that there were tadpoles lying on the grass gasping for water. My two year old daughter Shannon and her stuffed fish, Wa-Wa pointed out the shiny sleek black grey tadpoles on the contrasting green grass while the boys, ages six and four years old scooped them up for me to transport them via bucket to the lake. I looked like Doctor Doolittle and his helpers. 

We gathered hundreds and hundreds of tadpoles in the hot sun. This was the first time I could remember my three children unified in a project working together, so collaboratively and so focused. We worked hard over the September weekend fighting time, the sun, and predators. Birds, cats, and raccoons took advantage of the new food source. The neighbors saw my kids and me scooping up the tadpoles and laughed. One of the neighbors asked if we knew that most of the tadpoles would be eaten by the fish in the lake. We answered that it was worth it if some survived, especially to those that survived. We kept a few of the tadpoles to put in an aquarium we had, so the kids got to watch them transform into frogs before we released them to the front yard.