Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pantanal Posting Notice

Posts won't appear for at least two and a half weeks.

I'm heading to the Pantanal, the world's largest wetland, to assist Earthwatch researchers with the collection of data on reptiles, amphibians, and some bird species. I fly into Sao Paolo, Brazil, and then west to Campo Grande, in the state of Mato Grosso do Sol (which translates as "Southern thick forest"), before taking a little fixed wing to a spot not too far from the Paraguay border. The area is known for having one of greatest concentrations - if not the greatest concentration - of wildlife in South America. During the summer months (December to May), the Pantanal floods, but in winter (especially in August) the region experiences drought, conducive to wildlife viewing as the animals move close to the remaining water (rivers and standing water).

Much of my time will be spent slogging through mud looking for snakes and frogs, but caiman and bird censuses are also on the agenda. Spectacled caiman are closely related to the American alligator, and are more easy-going, in my estimation, than their snaggle-toothed, thin snouted relatives, the crocodiles. In fact, I've been told that swimming or wading with caiman is not particularly dangerous. The same is true of the piranha (unless you've an open wound, and I don't plan to). I believe there are several species of piranha in the Pantanal, but I'm sure to learn more about the fish while I'm there.

In fact, the many needles that I've had stuck in my arms over the last couple months - inoculations for every conceivable virus or bacterial infection - are likely to be the sketchiest things I'll encounter in conjunction with the trip.

But there is one species in the Pantanal I'd happily avoid altogether: the candiru. I've mentioned this little fish on HH in the past, but never having traveled to the region before, I haven't contended with this parasitic species. Rest assured, I'll be wearing a very tight bathing suit when I'm in the water. (For an explanation, see here.)

Anyway, while I hope not to see a candiru up close and (way too) personal, I will be thrilled if I encounter a giant anteater, maned wolf, or yellow anaconda, just to name a few of the many species I'm especially excited about. I also plan to do a little piranha fishing; given my dietary restrictions, I'm sure to savor the flavor.

No posts until I return. Be well.

Photo credit: Map graphic ripped from Innovations Report site


Tree said...

This is probably too late but have a great time and safe travels!

Oly said...

Chris, I certainly hope you have avoided the dreaded Candiru in your travels.


It brings to mind the creatures in "Search for Spock" that invaded the ear canals.


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