Bid to find a Valentine for Romeo, world’s ‘loneliest frog’

This handout picture obtained from Global Wildlife Conservation on February 9, 2018 shows a Sehuencas water frog (Telmatobius yuracare) named "Romeo" kept in a tank at the Natural History Museum in Cochabamba, Bolivia. (AFP)
Updated 10 February 2018

Bid to find a Valentine for Romeo, world’s ‘loneliest frog’

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia: With Valentine’s Day approaching, please spare a thought for Romeo the lonesome Bolivian frog.
Ten years a bachelor, the childless amphibian has had to enlist human help to mount a last-ditch search for a Juliet which, if it fails, could mean the end of his species.
Romeo, you see, is the last known frog of his kind.
And he has been fruitlessly calling for a mate from his tank at the Cochabamba Natural History Museum for years.
“We don’t want him to lose hope,” said Arturo Munoz, a conservation scientist associated with the Global Wildlife Conservation, which has hooked up with dating website Match to raise money for Romeo’s last shot at romance.
The funds will be used to scour Bolivian streams and rivers for signs of a female Sehuencas water frog, even in tadpole form.
“We continue to remain hopeful that others are out there so we can establish a conservation breeding program to save this species,” said Munoz.
If Romeo croaks, he could follow the route of “Lonesome George,” a childless Galapagos tortoise who died in 2012, taking his entire subspecies with him.
Sehuencas water frogs live for about 15 years.
As part of the campaign to raise $15,000 (12,200 euros) by Valentine’s Day, the team has created a Match profile for Romeo.
He is introduced by a video in which he shows off a variety of swimming moves.
“Hi there. I’m Romeo, a Sehuencas water frog from Bolivia,” says a sexy, Spanish-accented voice.
“I’m a pretty simple guy. I tend to keep to myself and love spending nights at home. I also love eating. then again, who doesn’t?“
His mobile phone profile, also shown in the video, sports a big-eyed, pouting cartoon frog posing in a seductive manner, with the words: “Looking for my Juliet.”
Romeo’s relationship status is listed as: “Never married.” Has kids? “No.”
“I bet you’re wondering what is a frog like me doing in a place like this?” the announcement continues.
“Well, I’m here to find my match, just like you. Except, my situation is a bit more... urgent.”
When Romeo was collected 10 years ago, said Munoz, “we knew the Sehuencas water frog, like other amphibians in Bolivia, was in trouble, but we had no idea we wouldn’t be able to find a single other individual in all this time.
“Romeo started to call for a mate about a year after he was brought into captivity, but those calls have slowed in the last few years.”
Compared to other frogs in the genus, Munoz told AFP, Romeo has an especially musical mating call, and has taught biologists much about his species.
It is a shy creature, usually hiding under rocks in his enclosure. It emerges only at feeding time, with earthworms and snails among its favorite snacks.
If they can raise enough money for travel and equipment, the team of scientists hopes to launch 10 expeditions to locations where the species was once common, as well as similar habitats, or places where nobody has looked before.
They will also scour streams and rivers for DNA evidence that the Sehuencas water frog may still be there, even if individuals cannot be tracked down.
If all else fails, Munoz does not rule out cloning as a means of preserving this amphibian species which, like many others, is threatened by climate change, habitat loss, alien predatory species introduced to rivers, and a fungus blamed for frog extinctions worldwide.
“So, if you believe in love and want to help an old frog out, please donate to my cause,” Romeo’s video concludes.
“Adios amigos.”


Alaska man discovers 50-year-old message in bottle from Russian Navy

Updated 19 min 2 sec ago

Alaska man discovers 50-year-old message in bottle from Russian Navy

  • Then Russian Navy Capt. Anatolii Prokofievich Botsanenko wrote the letter when he was a 36-year-old aboard the Sulak
ANCHORAGE, Alaska: A man discovered a 50-year-old letter in a bottle from the Russian Navy on the shores of western Alaska.
Tyler Ivanoff found the handwritten Russian letter early this month while gathering firewood near Shishmaref about 600 miles (966 kilometers) northwest of Anchorage, television station KTUU reported.
“I was just looking for firewood when I found the bottle,” Tyler Ivanoff said. “When I found the bottle, I had to use a screwdriver to get the message out.”
Ivanoff shared his discovery on Facebook where Russian speakers translated the message to be a greeting from a Cold War Russian sailor dated June 20, 1969. The message included an address and a request for a response from the person who finds it.
Reporters from the state-owned Russian media network, Russia-1, tracked down the original writer, Capt. Anatolii Prokofievich Botsanenko, KTUU reported.
He was skeptical he wrote the note until he saw his signature on the bottom.
“There — exactly!” he exclaimed.
The message was sent while the then 36-year-old was aboard the Sulak, Botsanenko said. Botsanenko shed tears when the Russian television reporter told him the Sulak was sold for scrap in the 1990s.
Botsanenko also showed the reporter some souvenirs from his time on the ship, including the autograph of the wife of a famous Russian spy and Japanese liquor bottles, the latter kept over his wife’s protests.
Ivanoff’s discovery of the bottle was first reported by Nome radio station KNOM.