September 13, 2013
The aquarium has been donated 10 baby endangered phantasmal poison frogs – believed to be one of the most toxic amphibians on the planet.
The frogs’ poison is reputed to be 200 times more powerful than the drug morphine.
The frogs were donated by an amphibian specialist in Kent where they were born as part of a captive breeding programme.
Blue Reef’s Chris Ireland said: “Virtually all species of frogs, and many amphibians as well, are becoming increasingly endangered in the wild.
“Poison dart frogs in particular are facing a number of threats including disease, pollution and loss of habitat so captive breeding programmes are becoming more and more important.
“Hopefully these individuals will one day become part of a satellite breeding colony here at the aquarium and help ease pressures on the wild population
“At the moment they really are tiny, but even when they are fully grown they still only measure a couple of centimetres – it’s amazing such small amphibians can be quite so dangerous in the wild,” he added.
Bright red with three usually greenish fluorescent stripes, the frogs are found only on the western slopes of the Andes in Ecuador.
The World Conservation Union considers the phantasmal poison frog to be ‘Endangered’, which means that it faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild. This species is now thought to survive in only seven sites on mountains in parts of Ecuador
Despite their deadly status it is hoped that the phantasmal frog could one day help save lives.
Scientists have discovered that an extract from the skin of the phantasmal poison frog Epipedrobates tricolor can block pain 200 times more effectively than morphine, and without addiction and other serious side effects.