Iwokrama river lodge and the worms of Turtle mountain
Well by popular request, this post has many more pictures – and not all of worms! But the resizing and uploading take so much time I have little time left for typing, that will make some people really happy!!
Today, the Mt Roraima leg of the expedition died – the current Guyana leg was a prelude to going into Venezuela and ascending Mt Roraima since this is where we felt the home of the Worm we find on the Amazonian archeology sites was. But the current unrest in Venezuela has made it impossible to get a sampling permit. We have tried everything but I think when helicopters are attacking your central court building, the country has greater concerns than processing a permit for earthworm sampling. All is not lost since we can return to Brazil and sample right up to the border which will give us most of the information we need – but this outcome made for a subdued breakfast table.
But what’s better to lift the spirits if not a day worm collecting….well it is for us. The morning boat ride was quite outstanding and showed the beauty of the forest in the morning light – yes, we were up, breakfasted and gone by 6.30 am. The boat took us to a camp at the base of Turtle mountain where we were met by a large contingent of 40+ people from the Wallecea project awaiting pickup since they had just completed a week performing biodiversity surveys – but they hadn’t been looking for worms.
So the plan for the day was to walk up Turtle mountain – a 300 m hill and a 10 km hike. That would be hard enough but the humidity and 30+ temperature means that desk-bound professors should watch out. I will fully admit I found it very hard, with clinging mud underfoot and a cloud biting insects always keeping you company. But the view from Turtle mountain was stunning. And then we started digging for worms – and the diversity was amazing with worms that your could hardly see to ones that were 30cm+ and as thick as my thumb. The species diversity was amazing.
The day was an amazing success – as we rode the boat trip home, the disappointments of the morning had been forgotten.
Just before you think earthworm sampling is too glamorous…. Most of our party were covered with mosquito bites with George being covered in a small tick-like insect that burrows into you skin for a week before dropping out and return to the soil for the next part of its life cycle. Then there was the 2 hours of worms sorting before the hour of hand washing trail clothes – but at the end of the evening we were all still smiling.