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The Kid Should See This

Tadpoles: The Big Little Migration, a film by Maxwel Hohn

Follow a swarm of western toad tadpoles on their daily journey through a remote lake on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. This award-winning film, Tadpoles: The Big Little Migration by Maxwel Hohn, took four years “floating in a lake” to complete. The footage is stunning.


He narrates the breathtaking scenes with information about the tadpoles’ migration, predators, and their eventual transformation into western toads. He also explains the special care he took to film them without disturbance.

In an effort to reduce the impact of my presence here I choose to snorkel, as it’s the least invasive method for me to capture my images. A simple wetsuit, mask, snorkel, and fins make it easier for me to get close to these fearless little creatures.


It’s a fragile environment and, as with most lakes, the bottom substrate is very fine and loose, so I have to be especially careful with my movements or I’ll lose visibility. Even the tadpoles can stir up the silt.

I also take advantage of the natural trails made from beavers that live here. They like to eat the lily pad roots leaving behind a series of natural trails.


Hohn’s goal is to film and photograph these normally-unseen underwater wonders to increase awareness, appreciation, understanding, and conservation for these ecosystems.

To see these aquatic tadpoles evolve into terrestrial animals before my own eyes was humbling and heartwarming.


Sea Legacy founders and conservation-focused photographers Christina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen joined Hohn on location. They also share their thoughts about what it was like to watch the little tadpoles for hours. From Nicklen:

“…you start to get very intimate and close with them—looking at their individual eyes, they’re individual characters—and you get to sort of almost see into the soul of a single tadpole. You have this sort of emotional connection to this animal and you realize they are an indicator species to a fragile and, in many ways, a changing and vulnerable ecosystem.”


Maxwel Hohn has worked for clients such as the BBC, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and more. Follow him on YouTube, Instagram, and at MaxwelHohn.com.

Watch these videos next:
• Raising wood frogs, from eggs to tadpoles to adults in 7 weeks
The mysterious purple frog of the Western Ghats
• Sounds of Survival: The quest to record an exquisite spike-thumb frog mating call

h/t Christopher Jobson.

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