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.