In a remote unnamed Vancouver Island lake, Maxwel Hohn has captured remarkable footage of the migration of hundreds of thousands of tadpoles.
The experienced diver based in the Comox Valley has shot underwater footage of wildlife around the world, but when he discovered the western toad tadpole right in his own backyard, he knew he was on to something special.
“I was shocked to see their behaviour,” said Hohn.
“You know I thought I’d see a couple of tadpoles coming towards me, but all of a sudden hundreds of thousands were streaming in this long highway and it was a migration. Each morning, they come from the deepest part of the lake and go to the shallows and along the way, it’s a gauntlet. They’ve got predators to deal with like leeches, snakes, water bugs.”
Over the course of four years, he captured the eight-to-nine week metamorphosis from dime-sized tadpole to a toad.
“I not only captured the tadpoles in the water but I also got the little toadlets going in the forest and taking their first bites with these little bugs under the canopy, it’s really quite wild,” he said.
In a eight-minute documentary, Hohn described how hard it was to shoot the video.
“These little guys move surprisingly fast and with constantly changing lighting conditions and visibility, it is one of the toughest natural events I have filmed,” he said.
Hohn shot hours and hours of footage and one of his partners, editor and writer Russell Clark said at one point, they had narrowed the footage down to a “manageable” four hours of the good stuff.
“The shooting was fantastic and that’s largely why we decided to take it one step further and produce the documentary,” said Clark.
“The shots on their own are great but if no one gets to see them it becomes a story that’s never heard.”
The eight-minute documentary on the threatened species is available for free on numerous online platforms.
Tadpoles: The Big Little Migration from Maxwel Hohn on Vimeo.
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For the past four years I’ve been documenting the tadpoles of the western toad. Now you can join their journey with my short nature documentary ‘Tadpoles: The Big Little Migration’ Tadpole videography by @maxwelhohn Additional video by @seaprooftv, @steve_woods_photography Aerial video by @steve_woods_photography, @maxwelhohn Written and edited by @seaprooftv Special thanks to @r.keat, @michiethefishie, @mitty, @paulnicklen, @mitchellprinters, @aquaticadigital, @lightandmotiondive and @baresports