Yanallpa and Dorado River

Oct 25, 2018 - Delfin II

Today we started our day in the usual way, with a very early exploration; we boarded our skiffs before breakfast and went looking for wildlife at Yanallpa in the Ucayali River. The early morning is the time when most birds and other creatures are more active, every one of them looking for their respective breakfast, and we saw many examples. Neotropical cormorants swallowing surprisingly big fishes, white-eared jacamars with large insects at the end of their beaks and plumbeous kites chasing dragonflies high in the sky. Several others were still patiently awaiting their meal, including the ever-present great black hawks, cocoi herons, great egrets, Amazon kingfishers, and black-collared hawks. We saw several species of the parrot family, like the blue-headed and mealy parrots, white-winged, dusky-headed and tui parakeets, and red-bellied macaws.

Then we entered a small tributary named Belluda Caño, where we pretty quickly found a small group of the rare and very interesting monk saki monkeys; with their long hair and very fluffy tail, monk sakis look very different than the other primates in the region. Their long tails were the cause of a lot of hunting in the past, being used as dusters throughout the area. And then we found something unusual: a dead green anaconda! At about seven ft long, the young snake seemed to be resting on a branch just above the water, but closer inspection revealed that the reptile wasn't alive anymore. We couldn't find any evidence of what may have caused its death; I guess that it was an example of how tough life can be in the Amazon and even the mightiest hunters die. It is a jungle out there!

During the afternoon, we explored the Dorado River, another tributary to the Ucayali further upriver. Some of us opted to visit it by kayak first, and then everyone boarded our skiffs to continue our search for wildlife; this time we stayed in the river until after sunset and brought spotlights and lamps with us to look for night creatures. It is something very special to be on a tropical river in the dark looking for the tell-tale sign of eyes reflecting our lights. We found numerous caimans, both spectacled and black, and had the chance to take some photographs of them as they watched us with just their eyes, ears and nostril out the water. What a special day we had today exploring the Ucayali River!

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About the Author

Carlos Navarro

Undersea Specialist

Carlos J. Navarro is a biochemist specializing in marine biology, a M. Sc. in Environmental Management and a freelance wildlife photographer/author. Carlos has spent most of the last 30 years living along the shores of the Sea of Cortez and participating in numerous scientific, conservation and environmental education projects on the vaquita, marine invertebrates, sea birds, great white sharks, baleen whales, jaguars and crocodiles. Carlos’ six years of jaguar research provided the basis of ONCA MAYA, a non-profit organization dedicated to jaguar conservation based in Cancun, of which he is a founding member and still serves as a scientific advisor. He loves being underwater, either free-diving or using SCUBA gear and have had the chance to explore the underwater realms of Alaska, Mexico, Svalbard, the trans-Atlantic ridge islands, the Caribbean and both coasts of South America from Panama to Chile and Brazil to Argentina. 

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