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Pussy Riot Meets Croc Researchers

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Through the several years of croc research, I am usually the only girl, or one of two girls doing research.  Well, that pattern of a male-dominated team was completely broken last night!  During the second night of our croc research on Caye Caulker it was Vince Rose from ACES, me, and an ACES intern and two undergrad students from UCLA who were all girls!!!!  It was badass.  Herpetology, particularly in the sub-field of crocodilian research, is heavily male dominated, but for one night it was the complete opposite.  And may I say, us girls kicked ass and everything went VERY smoothly.

ImageWe went all around the southern part of the island eye-shining for crocs, and then checking traps for crocs which Vince had set up earlier in the day.  We all started cracking up in the beginning of the night because the crocs would not go for the chicken we were baiting them.  Chicken is like candy to the crocs, but these crocs were having nothing to do with us.  We all started saying that maybe we ran into some vegetarian crocs.  But finally, we started snagging a few.

Two of the crocs were caught in Vince’s traps.  Usually Vince lends a hand in the stomach flushing process, but this time he asked, “Marisa, do you have this?”  And I was confident with this group of girls we had it.  So as Vince began setting up the first trap again for another croc, us girls began the usual data collecting for the first croc- about a 5 footer American Crocodile.  All was well, and this was the first time my student Theresa began learning how to collect all the data.  Then came the fun part- opening the mouth to put a PVC pipe and tube into the crocodile’s mouth.    So, I asked Miriam to hold the head steady, and then that’s when I went for the mouth.  There was a bit of rope in the mouth, so I used that to begin pulling the mouth open, while holding the lower jaw.  Then Helen used the PVC pipe to pry open the mouth even more.  So, we have one girl holding the croc steady, me with the upper and lower part of the jaw, and another with the lower jaw as well as with the PVC pipe.  Then BAM!!!!!  Helen had the PVC pipe in the mouth and the croc closed its mouth on the pipe.  We taped the mouth shut.  Then the fun part.  WE lubed up the tube and I stuck my fingers in the crocs mouth to open up its palatal valve to put the tube down its esophagus.  Yes, my fingers and part of my hand were in the crocs mouth.  Then the stomach flushing began, and it was flawless.  We got our data, and re-released the croc….. Girl power!!!!  But that croc got me at the end as I was carrying it to the water to release it, it decided to crap on me.  I guess he got the last laugh.

ImageOur night ended with catching a 7 footer in a mud pit, sinking in the mud and all trying to drag this croc to dry land.  After the 30 minutes trying to get this croc and securing it, it was all worth it because it just puked out  A LOT OF PARASITES!!!!!  It was amazing- such good data in all shapes and forms!

So after 14 hours of croc hunting, and croc puking and crapping, etc., we finally got back to base camp at 2am to get some rest, just to do it all over again.  All I know was last night was an amazing night and definitely a night of empowerment having such amazing women researchers along my side.

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