terça-feira, 7 de abril de 2009

Finding the Anaconda

Bonito, Brazil. After seven long days looking for the great Anaconda, we were finally about to get our close encounter. We spent most of the week searching rivers, estuaries, swamps, and sluggish streams. And up to that point, we spotted only a few individuals from far away. Anacondas in the wild spend most of their time in rivers hunting for their food. This giant snake is an excellent swimmer, but it also climbs on branches to dry off. They are solitary creatures, shy, and not easily seen. In the swamps and bogs where they thrive, Anacondas are very well camouflaged. To further the difficulty just locating a specimen, the team’s main goal was to film a big anaconda underwater! Each time we spotted one from the boat, within seconds, it would get away. So we decided to get out of the boat and flow with the currents in the stream. This approach seemed better, and I enjoyed the fresh water dive. For about a hour I found caimans (a miniature looking alligator), piranhas, and various fish both large and small . . . but no Anacondas. Suddenly our spotter from the boat yells, “There’s a huge Anaconda right in front of you!” I put my face underwater and the monster revealed itself on the limit of visibility; he was a green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus), about 19 feet long. The sensation of being underwater with this animal was amazing because I knew that the Anaconda is one of the largest and most powerful snakes in the world. It kills its prey by constriction, or squeezing, but only aquatic and amphibious animals such as small mammals, fish, caiman, birds, ducks, and turtles. Contrary to Hollywood, humans are not part of their “typical” diet. My big Anaconda was swimming slowly at the bottom and at first didn’t get upset with our presence. Feeling a bit confident I tried to get closer so I could get a better shot, but the animal changed its natural route and came towards me. I had forgotten that they are easily angered. My heartbeat increased immediately as I began to regret my move. However the magnificent animal continued on its way and quickly got into the bushes, disappearing from our view. What an amazing encounter!


Before our underwater encounter we found some small individuals hanging on the trees

After 7 days we dove with a 19 feet long Green Anaconda

We also found the huge Jau, a fresh water fish with 5 feet long...

and Fresh water sting rays

Our team planing the search: Lawrence Wahba, Amos Nachoum, our guide Juca and me.

Next week I'll be in Roatan, Honduras....stay tuned for daily trip reports.

terça-feira, 31 de março de 2009

The Sacred Ibis

After long hours of driving from East to West, crossing the whole country of South Africa, I arrived in a little city on the Western Cape called Montagu.
In the following morning I woke up early and took my camera for a walk. While exploring the surroundings, I stumbled upon a very curious place in the middle of the city. I was seeing a small ecosystem, inhabited by unique species of birds.
It reminded me of the famous Brazilian Pantanal, the largest tropical wetland in the world. However, this “little Pantanal” was just a strip of land with a small lake in the middle. It was totally void of people, and ruled by several species of birds. For a naturalist it was an amazing view! I quickly identified a few species such as Herons, Cormorants, and the magnificent Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus). This huge bird resides in marshy wetlands and mud flats. It feeds on various fish, snakes, frogs, and other water creatures, as well as insects. The adjective "sacred" comes from Egypt, where it was venerated. During their migration, the Ibis would arrive in Egypt which occurred at the same time as the Nile flood season. This fact is one of the explanations as to why the Egyptians revered the Ibis, because the Nile’s natural flooding would make agriculture possible enabling Egyptian survival. According to historians, these birds were invoked against incursions of serpents, one of their favorite foods. They were often mummified as a symbol of the god Thoth.
Nowadays things have changed . . . The Ibis has been hunted for its meat and feathers, almost to extinction. Because of this, the Ibis and several other species, is now protected by the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds. Here in the little city of Montagu, they are respected. The people became used to them and the city has now a new point of interest. I confess that was a very interesting thing to see and I had a few good shots that morning.

Two Sacred-Ibis flying over the South African city of Montagu

Some of them bring little twigs to build their nest

The Ibis nests in tree colonies, often with other large wading birds such as herons.

Every single twig is inhabited

A Heron prepare for landing...or treeing
Sacred Ibis and Herons are close relatives. Both of them are wading birds and belong to the Ciconiiformes Order.

Cormorants are also found in this little piece of land...

...together with many other small birds.

And all this biodiversity lives side by side with human beings, within the city, harmonicaly.

domingo, 29 de março de 2009

Welcome to my life

Dear Friends from all over the world.
I believe that the first thing to do in this English version of my popular Brazilian blog about diving, nature and adventures (http://www.diveadventures.blogspot.com/) is to introduce myself.
Bellow you will find a brief description about me, my life and dreams. Its not a resume but a little story about a boy who wanted to become a wildlife filmmaker. You may find some words spelled wrong and wrong grammar. Well, the only thing I can do for now is to apologize and improve with time. Please, feel free to leave a comment, criticize and contact me: cristian@diveadventures.com.br.

Welcome to my life!

I was born in the mountains of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. I grew up surrounded by nature, divided between the mountains and the beauty of the sea not far way from home. As young I was already an Adventurer. Full of courage, and a bit reckless, I used to spend hours into the tropical forest looking for animals, climbing mountains and swimming out in the sea. The time passed by and these kids games became serious. I was involving more and more with adventures sports, nature and I wished to see with my own eyes the landscapes and animals I used to see in several wildlife documentaries on TV. My fascination about the sea increasing and I could easily spend hours snorkeling along our typical rock coast, exploring the beauty of the underwater world. During these hours I was sure that my future was somehow connected to diving, sea and nature. Later I discovered that I wanted to be like those brave explorers I used to watch on the TV. I knew it would not be an easy task, specially for a Brazilian coming from a simple family. But I never gave up.

I decided to study biology and I became a PADI Scuba Instructor too. After graduation I hit the road..or better, the sea. I traveled throughout the world searching for job, new diving sites and new experiences. These were wonderful times and I learned a lot from every place I worked for.

After a few years traveling an old dream came true. I got a dream job in the Bahamas. I was a shark feeder in one of the biggest diving centers of the world, Stuart Coves Dive Bahamas. I had the opportunity to work as staff in several productions, including commercials, documentaries and movies. I was learning a lot, specially underwater filming. I was really happy there but one day I felt home sick and I went back to Brazil.

However I brought with me a lot of baggage from my previously experience and I thought that was time to began my career as I wildlife filmmaker.

I joined the renowned filmmaker Lawrence Wahba and today we produce several articles and series for the biggest Brazilian TV channel, Globo TV, National Geographic and many others. I also write articles for magazines and web pages. I have my own production company and I travel all over the world to capture with my camera the beauty of this blue planet. We are specialized in nature in general, not just underwater. But my great pleasure is to be bellow surface filming the spectacular marine life of our oceans.
My mission is to show you the pleasure to be side by side with mother nature and from now on I´ll share these experiences and images with you!

Stay tuned!

Best regards,
Cristian Dimitrius