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Slaughter of the Frogs

By johnboy - 15 December 2009 24

[First filed: Dec 13, 2009 @ 8:16]

Back when I worked in cinemas in London (over ten years ago) we had sensors in our refrigerators and freezers that triggered alarms when the temperatures departed from the acceptable range.

One might think the ACT Government’s much vaunted northern corroboree frog breeding program would care about its charges at least as much as a cinema cares about its ice creams. I mean if you lose a batch of ice creams you can get more delivered tomorrow. Whereas a rare frog breeding program indicates there are problems with supply.

But the ABC informs us that TAMS couldn’t even manage that:

Around 700 tadpoles and 300 frogs died when the refrigeration unit in a purpose built container housing the frogs at Tidbinbilla failed.

The frogs had been bred in captivity over the past two years.

Sharon Lane from the Department of Territory and Municipal Services says the breeding program staff are shattered.

It’s nice to know that having negligently slaughtered a population they were funded to propagate they feel badly.

They’re now promising to install an alarm system.

I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t entirely in keeping with what we’ve become used to.

UPDATE: The ABC’s Breakfast News is reporting a CT Story (no link at this time) saying the initial failure was a breeding program employee deciding to turn the refrigeration off so an ABC camera crew could have a better sound environment for recording.

Which makes one wonder what they thought the camera crew had come out for?

The greater failure still lies not in the fridge being turned off (horrific as it is), but the lack of monitoring systems capable of alerting anyone to the mishap.

What’s Your opinion?


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24 Responses to
Slaughter of the Frogs
Kramer 8:22 am 15 Dec 09

Don’t be so surprised, I have seen data centres where the cooling system malfunctioned, and no one was aware until servers started dieing as temps went over 60 degrees!

Gungahlin Al 6:37 am 15 Dec 09

cranky said :

One of the TV news stories (ABC?) had a weird lttle report, where it was stated that a staff member had turned the cooling system off whilst working there, and THOUGHT they had turned it back on when leaving.

Could be a bit of butt covering going on.

Yes Canberra Times is reporting today that the fridge was turned off while the film crew was there because during past media visits they’ve found it is too noisy to film and talk in there. Simply forgot to turn it back on.

Yes it is a real blow for the frogs esp) and an alarm would have been an obvious thought if the refrigeration was so critical. But it is easy to apply the old 20-20 hindsight. Who here has never made a mistake at work?

housebound 1:41 pm 14 Dec 09

I’ld like to offer my condolances to the biologists actually doing the work. There’s so much personal investment in projects like this, and having 100% of offspring dying is just devastating.

As for the person ultimately responsible for it – perhaps the bean counter who wouldn’t extend the budget to an alarm system or a more reliable fridge, or the gung ho manger who thought that nothing could go wrong – just own up and face the music.

Coach 1:03 pm 14 Dec 09

Whatever direction you look at it from……..it’s a bloody disgrace. 50 years ago our level of awareness, our technology etc would have excused this, but not in 2009. If anyone has the thought “Their only Frogs” going through their head when they read this…….then you really don’t GET IT.

neanderthalsis 12:23 pm 14 Dec 09

Frogs legs back on the menu?

Seriously, if you’re serious about replenishing stocks of endangered frog species, surely you’d have some sort of controls and alarms in place to prevent a froggy holocaust.

H1NG0 10:19 am 14 Dec 09

Pretty poor form I must say.

Ian 1:00 am 14 Dec 09

What was the contingency plan? Hope nothing goes wrong.

johnboy 9:41 pm 13 Dec 09

cranky said :

One of the TV news stories (ABC?) had a weird lttle report, where it was stated that a staff member had turned the cooling system off whilst working there, and THOUGHT they had turned it back on when leaving.

Could be a bit of butt covering going on.

How the cooling came to be off is not the issue.

How there were no alarm systems in place is the issue.

cranky 9:37 pm 13 Dec 09

One of the TV news stories (ABC?) had a weird lttle report, where it was stated that a staff member had turned the cooling system off whilst working there, and THOUGHT they had turned it back on when leaving.

Could be a bit of butt covering going on.

Piratemonkey 9:21 pm 13 Dec 09

ChrisinTurner said :

You may find that the proposed alarm cannot be connected to any 24/7 manned location from Tidbinbilla. Why did they decide to do this work at Tidbinbilla rather than at their proper research facilities at Grace?

Actually I believe you will find a wireless data connection and a solar panel + battery to keep the alarm up and running would cost less then a couple grand. All you need then, is a service to send a SMS message to someones mobile phone when things go down. You could set that up for a few bucks. Hell I have hacked together a similar alarm system minus the solar panel with things I have lying around the house.

Having worked with custom built equipment approaching this scale such add on’s would have been “a drop in the bucket” in comparion to what the equipiment cost.

Someone really screwed up the risk assesment part of the project plan on this one. Or someone ignored a sensible idea. Either way there is someone serioulsy worried at the moment they will be exposed for quite a career limiting move.

imhotep 3:50 pm 13 Dec 09

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

Missed opportunity for a headline….

‘Tadpoles toasted. TAMS staff gutted.’

.

I-filed 11:16 am 13 Dec 09

Why no risk assessment and planning? What’s with the ACT Public Service project “management” skills?

Woody Mann-Caruso 10:49 am 13 Dec 09

Missed opportunity for a headline containing the word ‘croaked’.

Thumper 10:43 am 13 Dec 09

unbelievable….

poor little frogs, no wonder they’re endangered.

ChrisinTurner 9:11 am 13 Dec 09

You may find that the proposed alarm cannot be connected to any 24/7 manned location from Tidbinbilla. Why did they decide to do this work at Tidbinbilla rather than at their proper research facilities at Grace?

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