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Joan Thuebel spoke on her "Amazon River Trip" with Earthwatch

Joan Thuebel, who has attended twenty-seven Earthwatch missions since 1980 reported on her recent trip to the Amazon River. She was introduced by Nancy Holt (on the left in the photo). Earthwatch volunteers work with scientists to solve environmental problems.

She has been to the Amazon 3 times, the most recent visit in August-September this year. A previous visit was 12 years ago. She flies from Lima into Iquitos, Peru. She was surprised to find that the Amazon River depth is the lowest level in recorded history. The boat her goup lived on, built in 1906, has a draft of only 8 feet. They had to travel 2 hours upriver to board the boat. After boarding, they were unable to travel all the way to the Samiria Park Preserve where they hoped to do most of their work.

Things were quite different from past trips but they still had much work to do. They counted (by estimation) wading birds, macaws, and fish .They went into the rainforest, which was quite strenuous, and counted monkeys and other mammals. Trees had a lot of thorns and there was lots of mud, no rocks. The group caught fish in a net, identified them, counted them and weighed them. They counted the number of river dolphins seen jumping out of the water.

There was an 8:30 pm night boat ride to count Caiman, small crocodiles. She was able to see stars clearly because there were no lights along the river. After traveling in a small outboard boat for a long time without lights, the leader turned on a search light so they could see the Caiman.

Joan showed slides of the river, forest, animals and cities. Iquitos was a rubber baron’s city. The town has been spruced up since she saw it 12 years ago. The group had a chance to tour the local market, which is quite large. On the boat, the researchers stayed in nice refurbished double rooms with private bathrooms. Rooms were air conditioned. Washed clothing hung out in open air would not dry in the high humidity.

She showed photos of macaws and insects taken during her earlier trip to the Amazon. Also, there was a photo of a red arrow poison frog. The natives do hunt and they are learning about sustainability, to not overhunt wild game. Natives along the river in the area migrate with their houses when required.

Click on this link to visit the Earthwatch website and learn more.

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