The hottest new album to drop this year could be a cappella croaking, bleating and barking — and scientists are hoping it will usurp superstar Taylor Swift at the top of the pop charts.
The Songs of Disappearance is an album entirely of frog calls collected by researchers and citizen scientists.
Its aim is to help raise awareness of Australia’s declining frog populations.
FrogID’s lead scientist Jodi Rowley, from the Australian Musuem, said the 50 minute-long album gave an insight into Australia’s wetlands and forests.
“[The tracks are] a collection of professional recordings of frog biologists — many that have never been heard before, including extinct species, which is really haunting,” she said.
“[There are] also submissions from across Australia that people have recorded using the FrogID app.”
The album is a collaboration between the Australian Museum, FrogID, the Bowerbird Collective, Listening Earth and Mervyn Street of Mangkaja Arts.
Last Christmas, an album of bird calls from the Bowerbird Collective made history by entering the ARIA album charts’ top five, surpassing Mariah Carey and ABBA.
State of frogs in decline
This year’s album contains thousands of submissions from throughout the country and will be released on December 2.
Dr Rowley said preliminary results from FrogID week, held this year from November 11 to 20, were just under record levels in terms of submissions.
“There were 17,500 submissions,” she said.
“So far we’ve got about 16,300 verified frogs of 96 species.
“We’re currently churning through records trying to get all of the frog calls listened to.”
Dr Rowley said she hoped Songs of Disappearance would leapfrog pop sensation Taylor Swift and take top spot on the Christmas ARIA Chart, to bring attention to the frogs’ plight.
“Hearing these animals that used to be calling from the rainforest gullies in South East Queensland … are now no longer heard, it’s really [moving],” she said.
“[Humans] are responsible for the loss of at least four species of frog in Australia and we’ve got another 40 species hanging on, threatened with extinction.”
She said there were “quite a few” threatened frog species on the Gold Coast and in the hinterland.
‘Rare’ frogs featured
Dr Rowley said a number of strange gurgles, growls and screams featured on the album.
The critically endangered spotted tree frog, which “is very rare, secretive” features on the album.
Other sounds recorded through FrogID include the green-thighed frog, which is listed as vulnerable in NSW.
“[It] is a very strange, secretive frog — it’s like the unicorn of the frog world,” Dr Rowley said.
“It’s not around for ages, but then as soon as it floods, this thing starts like a manic duck call.
“The dwarf tree frog — the sort of screecher — was the most commonly recorded frog on the Gold Coast this year.
“Up in the mountains in the rainforest there are all these mountain frogs … it’s a really important part of the world.”
Dr Rowley wants the album to top the music charts “to give these threatened voices [of] frogs a voice to be heard by lots of people.”