Thousands of tiny toads (briefly) invade Waimea Bay's sand - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Thousands of tiny toads (briefly) invade Waimea Bay's sand

(Image: Bia Atkins/Facebook) (Image: Bia Atkins/Facebook)
WAIMEA BAY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

It was a spectacle that caught many beachgoers by surprise: Thousands of tiny toads bouncing across the sand at Waimea Bay.

Bia Atkins shot cell phone video of the spectacle. There were so many it caught the attention of lifeguards.

"There was a concern that they were coqui frogs," said Ocean Safety Lt. John Hoogsteden.

The state Department of Agriculture couldn't immediately identify the toads, but University of Hawaii biology Professor Amber Wright said they appear to be recently metamorphosed cane toads.

"The females will lay thousands of eggs at a time. The eggs hatch out in a few days," she said. "After about a month of being tadpoles they metamorphose into those little little froglets you saw that are popping around. That's why you see that big swarm of them because they all kind of hatched together,"

Wright said they likely hatched in the stream that empties out into Waimea Bay.

Hawaii News Now's cameras captured a handful of toads hanging out by the water Thursday. They're extremely small -- about the size of a dime.

Cane toads are common across the state. They were introduced to Hawaii back in 1932 to control agricultural pests in sugarcane.  

"It's a little unusual to see them on a beach like that but is long as there's fresh water nearby any source of freshwater you can get these toads laying their eggs in it," Wright said.

Lifeguards say as soon as the sun was overhead -- the toads were gone. Wright suspects many probably made their way back to the brush.

"They don't need to be in water, but they need to stay in a moist environment and have a lot of cover," she said.

Experts say adult cane toads are extremely toxic. If you happen to touch one, you should wash your hands immediately afterwards.

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