‘Deafening’ nighttime sounds heard echoing on remote Georgia island. What causes them?

Mark Price
·2 min read

Remote Sapelo Island off the Georgia coast has been called everything from “haunted” to “cursed” — and a video shared days ago on Facebook shows it’s every bit as spooky as you’d imagine.

Filmed at night, the brief clip is largely pitch black, except for a shadowy outline of a ragged tree canopy on the horizon.

But that’s not the creepy part. It’s the noise: a guttural chorus of chittering, rattling and croaks in the dark.

The 15-second video was posted Feb. 27 by Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division, which noted heavy rain and warm temperatures on the barrier island had given rise to “vocalizing at a deafening volume.”

Listeners were invited to guess the source of the noise, which wildlife experts eventually revealed to be a horde of frenzied southern leopard frogs.

“Often a heavy winter rain will prompt explosive breeding in this species,” the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory reports.

A raucous mating call is part of these spontaneous affairs and, yes, it’s loud and weird. Imagine the sound one hears when “rubbing an inflated balloon,” Herpsofnc.com says.

“The mating call is a series of abrupt, deep croaks, creating a guttural trill. The trill rate may be as many as 13 per second,” Texas Parks and Wildlife says.

Sapelo Island, about 300 miles southeast of Atlanta, is a perfect place for the species. It’s also considered a “stronghold” for the venomous eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, experts say. The island is state-managed, sparsely populated and reachable only by passenger ferry.

The island is also known for its prehistoric past, including a ceremonial mound built by Indigenous Americans before the arrival of Europeans, according to the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserves. Spanish missionaries, pirates and Civil War engagements are also part of its lore.

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