If Caño Negro Did Surveys…
As we clambered out of bed at 4:30am little did we know what was awaiting us. We were due to GPS a new canal, Caño Negro, in preparation for surveys in the next phase. Before we had reached Caño Negro we were treated to a pod of bottle nosed dolphins (Tursiops truncates), there were approximately ten in total, hunting in the canal. We followed this pod for a good half an hour and were fortunate enough to see one jump clear out of the water behind the boat; before another gave a tail slap signal to return back to sea.
After this initial excitement we launched our canoe and paddled on our way down Caño Negro. The survey produced an abundance of birds including some of our rarer inhabitants. Amongst these were six green Ibis (Mesembrinibis cayennensis), twenty five red lored parrots (Amazona autumnalis), two crested guans (Penelope purpurascens), two blue dacnis (Dacnis cayana) and a keel billed toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus). We also saw three American pygmy kingfishers (Chloroceryle aenea) which is some feat considering our patrol leader Alex ‘the bird man’ Mead, had previously only ever spotted one.
Birds were not the only wildlife that we saw. A green basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons) showed us its ability to miraculously walk on water, as he skated roughly ten feet across the canal. Another highlight was spotting a Neo-Tropical River Otter (Lutra longicaudis) which was just as interested in us, and popped a third of his body out of the water for a closer inspection, before continuing his business.
When we thought that the survey couldn’t get any better, the best was saved until last. On our way back a large log like object loomed beneath the canoe. The log proceeded to flip its tail. Andy could barely contain his excitement, and some colourful language escaped as he realised he had just seen a West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus). Besides our best attempts a glimpse was all we could get, as the Manatee was long gone.
This experience was a definite highlight of our trip, and despite the dubious looks of other volunteer’s we were the envy of the camp due to the rare and numerous sightings. At present
Caño Negro doesn’t do surveys, but if they did they would probably be the best surveys in the world…
Bronagh Murphy, Andy Gray, Max Hardman. (5 week volunteers).
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