What have you been up to since the Covid outbreak hit? Maybe you’ve been baking sourdough or working on a cure like Isaac Newton did during the plague. One person who certainly hasn’t been wasting their time under lockdown is Hannah McSorley from County Tyrone, Ireland. The teenager has risen to TikTok fame after using the time that was meant to be spent preparing for her on-hold GCSEs to document a veritable army of tadpoles developing in her pool. Having accumulated 535,000 followers since her frog nursery began, the teen has been approached by a US influencer agency, proving nowadays you can monetize just about anything on the internet.
The online empire began when, while on a countryside walk with her family, McSorley discovered a patch of frog spawn in a puddle that was drying out. The rescue attempt turned into an educational experience for the family as she ferried the dehydrating eggs home and into a tank outside her house. A week later, another “beached” clutch was discovered and soon their digs had to be upgraded to a large paddling pool accessorized with plants and rocks.
Given their wriggly nature and small size, gathering an exact estimate on how many tadpoles are now taking residence in the repurposed play pool hasn’t been easy but McSorley likes to aim high with the population estimate. “I always say there’s 37,928,” she told The Guardian. “I call it a generous estimate.”
Evidently not one to do things by halves, she turned to the internet for an extensive research project that saw her consult the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) for guidance on what and how often to feed her army of tadpoles. As is the way with 2020, it wasn’t long before the frogspawn graduates made their way to TikTok, where the Mother of Tadpoles began sharing her knowledge with others looking to begin their own “journey with tadpoles”.
It seems her research paid off, as during 72 days with her anuran army McSorley has only reported three deaths, one funeral of which for a fallen comrade named Fred was aired on TikTok as a modest broadcast reaching 1.8 million views. While changing the makeshift “pond” water and keeping up a daily menu of boiled spinach and lettuce might sound like a thankless job, McSorley has been rewarded for her efforts as she accrued hundreds of thousands of followers and has even signed with the US influencer company Markerly to grow her platform.
If her estimates are correct, a mass exodus of 37,928 frogs alongside successful pond graduates from the wild could potentially affect ecosystems who wouldn’t usually see such a sharp rise in froglets, but it's likely the real number won't tip the ecological scale. One local still raised concerns with the NIEA as to how the sudden flux in frogs could affect the area and so they are working with McSorley in making a plan to stagger the tadpoles eventual release into ponds and streams within a 3.2-kilometer (2-mile) radius.
I suppose finding representation, inspiring a following of hundreds-of-thousands, and raising an army of frogs is an alright achievement for just a few months. In the meantime, I suggest we stay on the Mother of Tadpoles, breaker of chains and sacker of cities’ good side, for the sake of the people of County Tyrone.
[H/T: The Guardian]