About two years ago I traveled to my first CITES/IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group’s (CSG) meeting in Manaus, Brazil.  I had no idea what to expect.  I was about to meet and connect with the “big wigs” in my field, the godfathers, the legends!  I was nervous.   I was traveling by myself to this conference.  I had spoke with some people via email, but didn’t actually know anyone.  On the flight over, I just so happened to run into some CSG members, and ended up sitting next to one on the way over to Brasil.  He was awesome and told me the stories of the past CSG meetings… I had a good feeling about all this.  But as a grad student, I wondered “was my research going to be interesting to anyone? Were these people going to be cool or snobby?  Was this just going to be a unforgettable time in Manaus or just be one of the longest weeks of my life?”  But having a couple of drinks and mingling with the CSG guys on the plane, I had a feeling this trip was going to be epic!

This conference was intellectually stimulating, and I loved meeting people from all over the world with various scientific backgrounds.  And of course, it was awesome being around people who loved crocodiles and were making a difference for conserving these ancient reptiles.  With all the different conferences I have been to the last couple of years, the CSG has been far the best conference ever- and the craziest.  Croc people are not only intelligent, but these people know how to party and

have fun.  Every day after the conference, there was a herd of us that went to the local distillery and didn’t leave until we were kicked out.  I just remember shots went round, people were climbing walls (granted, the wall looked like a rock climbing wall on the outside of this bar/club!), there were martial art sparrings, and the list goes on.  By the end of this trip, I had made some amazing friends- even decided to postpone my trip down to Rio de Janeiro and head into the Amazon with the group of them to go catch some caimans/jacare!!!

So now I head to Manila in the Philippines for the 2012 CSG meeting.  Sounds like it will be the same crew as last time.  So if you want to know where the wild things are, we’ll be in Manila for the next week.

CSG Member Val Lance  who is a member on my doctoral committee, along with Sarah Keenan who is studying bacteria in alligator intestines.  Needless to say Sarah and I get along very well 😀

During our excursion in the Amazon one night catching caiman, this Florida guy did one amazing one-handed catch… caught the caiman while the other was    holding a drink.  Impressive!

During a hike through the jungle, a tour guide told us about a larvae that tasted like coconut.  I love coconut, and couldn’t resist not trying.  Honestly, the little critter kind of reminded me of an Almond Joy.