During the course of four years, Maxwel Hohn submerged himself in a remote lake on Vancouver Island to record the otherwise unseen life cycles of western toads. The hours of stunning footage culminate in the award-winning short film, “Tadpoles: The Big Little Migration,” which chronicles the tiny amphibians’ evolution from bulbous swimmers—Hohn notes how the critters look like they’re smiling constantly at this stage—to fully formed toads.
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Because the ecosystem is incredibly fragile, the Canadian videographer details his precautions to not disturb the environment, which include passing through lily pad trails made by beavers and floating at the surface to keep the silt covering the lake’s bottom from clouding the water. “To see these aquatic tadpoles evolve into terrestrial animals before my own eyes was humbling and heartwarming,” he says.