Lindblad Expeditions - From the Delfin II in the Amazon - Paula Tagle, expedition leader

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From the Delfin II in the Amazon

Nov 27, 2012 - Delfin II

Arriving at Amazon Private Reserve
Musicians aboard Delfin II
Wattled Jacana (photo by Maria Luisa Crawford, guest)

Amazon Private Reserve, Nauta Canio & Pahuachiro Trail

The moon rises, and by 6 p.m. it is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Gray dolphins fish nearby, creatures that arrived to the Amazon only after the river finally cut through Obidos in Brazil, to reach the Atlantic, about five million years ago.

It’s a perfect setting, well, almost perfect, as mosquitoes have decided to pay us a visit as well.

Our day started with the exploration of “Amazon Private Reserve,” a place where we had the opportunity to walk closer to the canopy, which is the forest layer where 90% of the photosynthesis occurs. We passed by one of the most amazing trees, the strangler fig. Hard to believe, but this giant started its life as seed dropped by birds on branches of other trees, let’s call them “hosts,” or more precisely, “victims.” From the seedlings, shoots grew out and around the main trunk of the host. Ever tightening, these tendrils encircled the trunk, cutting into the bark, and blocking vital cellular water channels. Hopeless, the victim was eventually covered under tightly woven roots and stems.

It takes several years for the host tree to die and decay, leaving behind the shell of the living fig tree. This allows the fig to grow to the canopy layer much quicker than if it had to wait for the light and warmth created by a forest gap. Interesting! And I am not telling you the way its flowers are pollinated, as that’s another long and intricate story.

Bromeliads surprised us all with their beauty and capacity to hold water. It’s been proven that these “aerial aquariums” of the pineapple family can store as much as 8 liters. Being epiphytes they do not actually damage the host tree, but the weight of many plants can indirectly cause harm.

The afternoon found us in Nauta Canio, with perfect flat waters and a wonderful skiff ride, or kayak, in the company of birds of all sorts of colors and songs. We saw our first primates of the week, pretty active common squirrel monkeys.
As the moon rises, and we sing birthday songs for one of our guests, I am thinking about the night hike ahead. The activities of today aren’t over yet. We have a flooded forest to explore at night, and who knows what new marvelous relationships and interactions among species will amaze us again.
 


About the Author

Paula Tagle·Expedition Leader

Paula grew up in Guayaquil where she obtained an undergraduate degree in geology from the Polytechnic University of Guayaquil. She enjoyed many field trips all around Ecuador and during her vacations traveled in Central and South America in the hope of learning more about her people and culture. The last year of her studies she worked at a mine looking for a more ecologically responsible way of recovering gold. Interested more in volcanoes than in raw materials, she came to Galápagos, a mecca for geologists, in 1992. She was bewitched by the other wonders of the islands and became a naturalist guide for the Galápagos National Park.