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Fishing, crabbing, croc stomach flushing… oh my!

downloadThe first night of adventures continued the next 48 hours. Monday morning we got up after a night of eye shining for crocodiles with the stomach flushing of a 6 foot female crocodile. She was a bit emaciated, and sad to say, that is something that we have been finding among Ambergris crocs for years! Jelly bellies, no teeth, emaciation, skin sloughing off…all possible signs of a very polluted environment. For an animal that is pretty tolerant of nasty environments and that has survived millions of years, I would think a “sick croc” is a pretty good indicator of an unhealthy environment. We did notIMG_0088 IMG_0092find any parasites stomach flushing the croc, but we did an external parasite known as Paratrichosoma. It’s a benign parasite, and leaves beautiful trails on the abdomen where the female lays her eggs that get released into the environment. It’s very rare to find this parasite on this island. So far, my data along with other researchers show a correlation to urbanization/pollution to low or no prevalence of Paratrichosoma. Future analyses of data will help us determine if Paratrichosoma could be a bio- indicator of crocodilian habitat. Upon releasing the croc, we stuck a go-pro on it’s back to get the perspective of a croc release. It’s pretty awesome, and I’ll post it on my blog once edited.
IMG_0110Come the evening we went to our first crabbing and fishing site at the boat yard near The Office. While eating and drinking some good food and Panty Rippas, we caught various fish and crab. We literally made spears out of wood sticks and pvc pipes we found along the streets, and strapped a knife to the end to spear the crabs. One of my assistants, Miriam, rigged up a crab trap with some stuff she found around the streets as well- very inventive!  its been awesome figuring out what IMG_0119works and creating tools out of the limited supplies (and grant money) we have!   The success continued in the morning, and we ended the morning with dissections of all the samples, taking parasites and a tissue sample from each individual for heavy metal analyses. We were exhausted by the end of the morning given our night of karaoke fun at Pedro’s Inn. Now, as the sun sets after a VERY heavy rain, we are hoping to catch some more fish, so we can head to another spot in the morning.

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