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Boat paddling ambi  








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Night ambi  








Interview 21:31 - 1:31:43 Play 21:31 - More
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F. Castañeda Moya, A. Queral-Regil  







Francisco Castañeda Moya, Alejandro Queral-Regil; Herpetology; Crocodiles  

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NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
9 Apr 1999

  • Guatemala
  • near Las Guacamayas Biological Research Station; San Pedro River
  • 17.24667   -90.29306
    Recording TimeCode
  • 2:15 - 6:40
  • Guatemala
  • Las Guacamayas Biological Research Station
  • 17.24667   -90.29306
    Recording TimeCode
  • 13:06 - 19:14
  • Guatemala
  • near Las Guacamayas Biological Research Station; San Pedro River
  • 17.24667   -90.29306
    Recording TimeCode
  • 21:31 - 1:03:50
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Equipment Note
  • Stereo=2: 1=L, 2=R; Decoded MS stereo


Herpetologists: Francisco Castañeda Moya, Oscar Lara, and Alejandro Queral-Regil

:54 ambi on boat - paddling? People are quiet ..someone singing in sp in the bg -

2;20-5:39 good boat ambi - paddling w/some talking

6:12-6;42 ambi - on boat - quiet while waiting for a aligator?

8:14 - 8:31 clanking on boat

G 8:32-9:35 start of motor on boat - some sp talking - VERY LOUD MOTOR

9:51 motor is shut off -

11:22 motor starts up again - talking in bg

13:08-19:21 ambi diff spot - loud crickets? Outdoor ambi - away from camp toward the

19:51 croc hunting with Francisco Moya and Alejandro Queral on Friday night

20:15 lots of talking on boat -

G 21:13 - in sp - people spotting a snake and getting very excited

21:35 A (Alejandro) - we are trying to get the snake out of the bottom and just as soon as it saw us it dove in and it is pretty much hiding - the muddy bottom- we are just trying to pull it out - one of guys just pulled it out - just grabbed it! and it is on the dock (yelling in sp) 22:20 - it is apparently a new record for the park so this is a snake - a species of snake that hasn¿t been recorded before so it is a really good find. T his is exactly what RAP is all about. TALKING IN sp - it is one of the water snakes that inhabits the San Pedro river. It is a beautiful snake. 23:00- it is about a meter long -75 cent long it is dark greenish gray with 3 lines. It is a dorsal line which runs from the mouth and then the key - one of the key featues are the spots on the venture or the belly of the snake. The belly is pretty much white. And there is 2 rows of spots going from the head to the tip of the tail. - talk in sp - 24:00 - it is an aspes??? Snake - it has a toxin but it doesn¿t - well it is certainly not - it doesn¿t kill humans but you will prob have a reaction if it bites you. It prob uses it to stun the prey and begin the digestion process¿the fangs ¿.the rear and large tooth - it doesn¿t have a large tooth - it is a groove where the venom or the toxin runs through - this is a very exciting find!

CJ - didn¿t even leave the dock to get it!

25:00 laughter

25:32 A - so these are - unlike many other water snakes in the new world, this is an oviparous snake. So it lays eggs. ¿Keen-kee-betatus¿ - (the name of snake?) 26:40 this type of snake belongs to the same family of black rat snakes and water snakes in the US - sinclubruits (??) - the largest family of all the snakes.

Talking in spanish

A - 28:24 - it is kind of funny bc the only record for boa constrictors - you know, big boas - of this area was done right here - right on the dock also. Magic dock I guess¿..29:36 they ae saying there is a croc right around here

CJ - that¿s why people don¿t go swimming around here

A - well, not at night

talking in sp - stop down

30:08 - back in boat

30:16 ?? - there¿s one¿no¿.

boat passing¿..

31:24 A - we are looking for

31:28 pare - pare!!! Screaming to someone to stop!

32:16 A - we are flashing the spot light back and forth just - flashing the shore - and we are looking for this little eye shine and we are looking for this eye shine - the crocs are floating in the water, their eyes are out and when the light hits them you will see this red eye shine and that is what we are looking for - so it is a real tiny spot but it is a really exciting when you see it. the boat has to go at fairly low speed the whole time so that you can see - ¿talk in Spanish - 33:04 so now I have to write down - we spotted one but it went down pretty quickly - it heard the boat - the yelling and screaming is ok - but when the boats get too close they are not careful the croc will go down¿.

In Spanish - a pare la luz!!

34:30 We are basically just flashing this spot light until we see something. It is very intense. There is nothing else you can really do. You can¿t look for other animals, or anything like that bc pretty much any disturbance in the water will alert the crocs that there is something else going on. So this in pretty much croc night - nothing else.34:53

VG (at top) 34:54-36:14 ambi - in boat looking for crocs - Morelet's Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii)

36:15 talk in sp on boat¿..

37:06 A - (in response to CJ quest about what prey looking for) mostly fish, depending on the size of the crocs, but the larger crocs will certainly small mammals. ¿.turtles¿..SPANISH¿, yes - fish and small mammals and turtles. Actually, this species of crocodile their teeth are specially modified for cracking shells of crocs [turtles] - which at least is a hypothesis that some biologists have which is a distinct from the other species of croc that occur - not in particular in the Rio San Pedro, but in the Assuma Sinta (?) which is the American croc. It¿s teeth are adapted to cracking - the shape of their rear teeth are adapted to cracking the shell of the turtles (Linda talks over this) - and small mammals like raccoons and also birds that maybe near the shoreline. Snakes. Very small crocs - newborns will survive on insects - large insects. That is their main diet until they get large enough to get fish and larger prey. 38:56

G 38:57-39:17 ambi - boat motor - faint talk in bg

39;20 A - Francisco is just telling me that this is a regional, endemic species that only occurs in southern mexico, guat and belize. So that is one of the reasons that this species is so important and why we want to work with it and finding what the pop size is ¿.it is listed in appendix 1 of CITES which is¿¿ Appendix 1 is the most endangered species in that list prob the most endangered and there is no commercialization of their fur or skin or whatever and countries that have signed on the list don¿t trade these - any of these products of the animals. Appendix 2 and 3 are not as threatened or endangered. 41:08

41:11 shut down

41:59 - back up

42:09 A - this is one of the - Oscar Lara is telling me that this is the second most sought after species of croc bc of its skin. It is a very soft kind of leather. In the 1940s and 50s the pop was hunted to near extinction and it is still a very low levels espc bc it occurs in such a small area being a regional endemic species that is why it has been listed in appendix 1 of CITES. 43:15 Oscar Lara is also telling me that by Guat law it is illegal to hunt although in this areas which are pretty remote it is very diff to control and enforce those laws.

43:27 ambi

43:42 A - fortunately it is very windy and there are not very many mosquitoes¿although if we do stop we will prob start feeling them right away. Good thing it is the dry season.

43:55-44:06 ambi - w/talking in sp in bg

44:55 A - oscar is telling me that this is also known as a swamp croc - at least locally - bc they tend to use the swampy areas as habitat. Particularly the females they go to lay their eggs right around the shore near swampy areas. The reproductive season is starting right now. This is when they are going to start courtship behavior and then they will lay its eggs, very similar to the cayman where they lay their eggs and then make these huge piles of leaves and diff debris and they will hatch right around the rainy season which is right around sept which is when the rains are highest - when water is at its highest 45:44

46:39 A - basically we are not finding much bc the densities in this river are fairly low. Francisco Moya conducted his study and his ? found densities to be about 2.4 or 2.1 crocs per kilometer. So they are fairly low. Of course with this technique you are not catching everything, you are just catching the crocs that are on the shore or one the water. 47;14 but it is populations in general are fairly low. It also could be that one of the boats that went ahead of us half and hour, 45 mins ago might have disturbed them enough that they get scared and they go hide. So that might be another reason why it is so low so far. But we may get lucky at any moment. You never know. 47:52

47:53-48:09 boat ambi -

48;10 boat ambi w/talking in bg (in sp)

49:12 A - we are just discussing the methodology - perhaps we should change to using 2 of the spot lights and one person shines on one side and the other on the other¿ the river gets wider it gets harder to sweep the entire area - so perhaps we should get another spot light. 49:45 there is also - one of the reasons that Francisco is interested in assessing the population size in this area is bc there is a possibility of a project to at some point - first determine the population sizes and if the populations are large enough perhaps starting perhaps some kind of sustainable farming for the crocs so that hunting is avoided all together and also one of the cases that he is talking about specifically there is a farmer near by - form near to the station that is thinking about turning his land into rice fields and other agricultural crops but one of the options for him would be - bc he has 3 lakes that has crocs is to use those lakes as farm - to farm those crocs. And that would certainly reduce populations are at least there is that possibility. 50:55

50;56-51:15 ambi in boat

51:17 A - a lot of field biologists like this are for some reason herp or any field biologists that deals with very shy animals you will look and look and it will be a test of your patience and every once in a while you get rewarded and apparently that is enough to keep us going 51:34

51:35 velta velta!! (raised voices in sp - people are excited¿)

52:18 A - ok, we just spotted one (boat motor stops)

52:28 - A - there - there -

talking in sp

52;51 A - you have to be in line with the croc - you have to be right in line with the eyes of the croc to really see the shine - yeah - there it is - right there - right where the spot is - you can see that shine - that red shine¿de recho de recho! It is a little one - a very little one. 53:23

CJ - you have got good eyes

53:26 A - yeah - he has got amazing eyes - you have to have your light right in line with your eyes and the line of the line of the croc otherwise you can¿t see the shine. Like 2 burning cigarettes in the dark. 53:51 54:04 now we are not sure - maybe a frog or something else

54;22 ambi in area - waiting for croc - in boat w/no boat motor

54:58 A - (in a whisper) we have to be very quiet - they are trying to find exactly where it is 55:00 it is right under the log - right there -we are trying to get as close as we can - and Oscar (?) is reaching out for it.

55:13 OOP!

55:23 - A - first in sp and then - it got away apparently - it was about 45 centimeters long - as far as I could see¿I am not so sure. But the problem was we got caught on the grass - on the tall saw grass - it is pretty common around here. 55:47

55:48 talking in sp¿¿

55;58 Oscar just missed it by a few inches. They are also slippery when they are wet, so it is a bit harder. We are still looking around bc they go under the logs - all over here.56:22

56:23 talk in spanish

56:33 A - yeah, we got stuck in the saw grass. So no we are going to go away and wait a few mins and see if comes out in a few mins. Some times they will just go and hide some where else and you can¿t find it. I certainly have never had any luck like that.

57:01 A - so now we are using the smaller lights to look for it bc the big one is just¿ we have seen two - so this one was pretty much a new born - talk in sp ¿¿ so this one might have been born last oct so it is about 6 months old so it is the newest of the new - the newest new born. 57:52 they just spotted it again. Ok now it is francisco¿s turn he will get on to the front of the boat and lean forward and far as he es? Oh, I guess I wasn¿t¿

58:21ambi - talk - off mic in span

58:41 A - well I guess we have a second spotting¿.58:47 SOMEONE MAKING FUNNY SOUND - only a few secs in the clear - A - that sound is what they sound like - esp mothers trying to call their youn

59:04 CJ - (off mic) do you know what kind of plants those are?

59:05 - A - that is saw grass..TALKING IN SP ABOUT NAME OF SAW GRASS¿59:37 she was about 40 centimeters long

59:43 laughter¿.talk in sp

1;00:07 motor starts up

1:00:18 THEY SPOT ANOTHER ONE - talk insp

CJ - same one?
1:00:33 A - they just spotted it again¿.I can¿t see it right now, so I am not sure. Talk in sp

1:01:02 A - ok, we just spotted another one. Bc they are so young, the young ones are usually stick together so there¿s two (in a whisper) - derecho derecho - try to keep quiet bc the young ones tend to get scared more easily. So now we have to catch with one boat. Fracisco is directing the boat - to straight¿¿he may have to catch something here if I see it.

1:01:56 ambi - quiet as they try to catch one

1:02:11 A - so we are getting closer to the saw grass now. Francisco still see it I think I can¿t see it - I don¿t know where it is - I have no idea - Fran is taking - we have to get as close as we can on the boat and then Fran will reach and grab for it since it is that small one

1:02:38 quiet ambi - as they go for the croc

1:02:56 - A - I don¿t know where it is - Fran might have lost it

1:03:08 ambi - quiet as they look for it GOOD AMBI

1:03:29 A - now we are going to try and find the other one¿talk in sp

1:03:37 ambi - quiet - looking for croc

VG*** FX 1:03:49 - chains clanking

1:04:23 A - TALK IN SP - yeah - that way we can direct the boat a little better

1:04:44 - GOOD FX - clanking of chains on boat?

1:05:00 - A - so we are going to back out and wait and see if we spot them again. We have spotted them already 2 or 3 times.


1:05:24 A - ok, we have just spotted another one - I don¿t see it. it is very far in. there is a little opening btwn two big clumps of grass and going to try and get the boat as close as we can to it but it is going to be tough - se fue?

1:05:48 A - it has strayed all the way to the shore. I don¿t know if the boat will -

1:05:55 FX - clank of chains on boat

A - it is pretty far - pretty far in - we will pretty much get stuck

1:06:01 VG AMBI - trying to get into shore - with talking in bg, but good couple of secs

1:0:37 - A - que paso? ¿talk in sp

1:06:57 - GOOD AMBI - getting into shore? Moving boat to get near croc - talking in sp in bg

1:07:26 A - what has been happening is been going back and forth - he goes - as soon as we back out he pops his head out again. So we see it and¿he comes - as soon as we get close he dives back in - he is pretty much playing a game with us. He is probably having fun (people in bg laughing off mic) with us right now.

Talking in sp

1:0:8:11 A - so we are going to head on - keep going for now, and then we are going to probably shine a lot on our way back.

Talk in sp

1:08:32 - ambi and FX - chains on boat - people talking in g bg - motor starts up @1:09:44

ALI¿s LAST NAME = QUERAL (he says how you should pronounce it - but I can¿t figure out how to write it out - listen at 1:10:12 for correct pronunciation)

VG 1:10:14 - 1:10:19 boat motor ambi

1:10:20 A- this is so much fun, just being out here (CJ - it is fun) - A - for me it is just a treat, you know? You don¿t get to do this any other way. To be out on boats at night shining lights at the shore and just going and going - (CJ-trying to find something) -A - trying to find something - very exciting when you find it- there is nothing like it

CJ - I couldn¿t hear everything you were doing - CHRIS INSTRUCTING ALI WHAT TO DO - ALI SAYS HE IS DOING IT

G 1:11:47 boat motor ambi

1;12:06 A - so, we will prob go like this for a few hours tonight - prob we are prob gone another 4 or 5 hrs. we want to try and cover as much of the study area as we can. We have another night after this one to look for crocs. But it is certainly a unique opportunity - the RAP program

1:12:36 - ambi - boat motor

1:12:40 A - we will have another 2 nights dedicated to looking for turtles. There are also several records ¿

1:12:48 EXCITING TALK IN SPANISH - aqui! Aqui!

1:12:56 A - ok, Oscar just spotted a big one - one of the big ones

Oscar talk in sp¿¿

1:13;10 A - Oscar is just spotting one, apparently it is a big one. It is around the shore.

1:13:16 ambi - getting pole - OK but short

1:13:21 CJ - so what is he going to use?

A - he is going to use it is a catch-all (?) pole - it is basically one of these animal control poles and bc it is a bigger croc and basically it is a long hollow pole (CJ- w/a noose at the end) with a noose at the end. Right. So when you slip the noose over the head and shoulders and once you got it you can pretty much - you can pull at the other end and if you do it right - you have to be knowledgeable when you do it - bc if you do it wrong you can choke the croc or cause some damage. But if you do it right over the shoulder you can pull it out no problem. They will be fine.

CJ - (to LINDA) if there is water struggle put mic on the water not Ali

1:14:09 A - Ok - you can prob see it at the bottom now¿

1:14:17 talking in spanish - good

1:14:25 A - it looks like it is an adult now.

1:14:38 another boat passes by

1:14:52 Oscar? Talking in sp - to direct boat - GOOD but another boat motor in bg

1:16:16 LOUD cracking sound - (a paddle?)

1:16:30 lots of talking in sp -

1:17:07 A - this is really interesting - they are talking about - how this guy before was telling us - in the 40s and 50s they hunted these crocs but it is still going on - our boat was telling us that he just found 2 carcasses rotting onthe other side of past the Secalucke(?) river - so that is why the adults are a lot more difficult to catch. Bc of the (1:17:39 boat motor starts up) bc they are so weary of hunters. So any time there is any kind of disturbance the juvs are a little more naïve and so they are a little easier to catch

1:17:56 talking in sp - boat motor up -

1:18:41 aaaah ah! (in sp)

1:18:45 A - they just spotted another one - wow!


1:18:51 A - there is one righ ton the water - rapido! rapido! Do you see it?!!! rapido! Dereche - pare! Rapido!!

1:19:03 - ok we are going to go quickly now bc there¿s one right now in the water - it is right there! Straight straight! Ok we might get this one!

1:19:15 boat slows down

A - you can see it blinking

1:19:19 VG ambi/FX -

1:19:31 - watch out bc they are going to put it right there - shish!

1:19:38 - A - in sp and then ALI - yeah, that was a big one

talk in sp

1:20:02 - talk in sp - Oscar??

1:20:26 - A - so this one was another large adult - the last 2 ones we spotted we are estimating their size at about a meter 50.

1:20:35 talk in sp

1:21:35 - unzippering something?

1;21:48 ambi - boat motor start up

1:22:02 A - wow. We are having a busy night already. We just spotted another one - well, the other boat just spotted another one - now we have to see - oh yeah there it is - BOAT AMBI - yeah - it is right there - derecho! Corto motor! Other boat motor dies too -

1:22:36 - A - it is just right in front of us - right there! Right there! Yeah you can see the little eyes. Now fran is getting right on the tip of the boat. No es? Ah! Dios mio!!!
Well, hu- I guess - TALK IN SP¿..

talk in spanish - laughter

1:23:57 - boat motor starts up - talking in sp in bg

1:24:13 - A - it is still pretty good

1:24:23 - boat motor ambi -

1:24:33 - talk in span

Oscar in sp
1:24:41 A - Oscar is basically saying that its just much harder when the are swimming right in the middle of the river - versus when they are right on the shore. When they are right in the middle of the river they just dive and he has never caught one like

1:24:57 boat ambi - G not much talking

1:25:25 A - I think I am running out of batteries bc my light is not very powerful anymore.

1:25:26 LUZ!!!

1:25;27 - ambi

1:25:36 A - well, we will just keep searching

1:25:38 ambi - G - no talking in bg

1:25:52 - A ¿ a la - derecha - si

1::25:57 - good boat ambi - no talking

1:26:50 A - my light is just not working¿.

1:27:03 mas izquierda

mas centro -

1:27:08 G boat ambi (@1:28:37 - some talk in sp )

1:30:43 talking in sp
1:31:03 A - Oscar was telling me - I asked Oscar if there is a diff in the habitat type that adults use and juvs use and generally neonates and juvs tend to use more of the saw grass areas and the swamps, but the adults - especially the large adults - uses these beaches where large trees have fallen over and it is very thick with vegetation other than saw grass. Prob bc they are searching for diff prey items and also bc juvs need more protection so saw grass provides that - more hiding spots. 1:31:47

1:31:48 ambi - in boat - no talking in bg - G -

1:32:27 talk in spanish - talk in sp

A - Fran just saw an agouti - a large rodent - they call it tepescuinkly (?) down here

Oscar talking in sp -

1:32:57 A - so apparently the agouti is the most hunted mammal in the region

G 1:33:10 boat ambi

derecha - derecha - TALK IN SPANISH

1:33:30 A - derecho shush!!! Esta!!!!! (very exciting!) - {in a whisper} - esta! We just spotted another one and it is right in front of us and it is just sort of blinking - but oh no - it is all covered in vines and thick underbrush - it is right under all the brush - we can¿t get that far - talk in sp - pequeno -

1:34:37 Vg ambi - bringing boat in to shore - talking in sp -

1:35:18 boat motor starts up

talk in sp

1:35:35 boat motor ambi - zipper sound - 1:36:02 motor louder

1:36:16 - talking in sp

1:36:18 - good boat ambi

1:37:19 CJ - did you see who it was who actually grabbed the snake?

A - yea - that was Herman Kihn (¿Keen¿) - he was on his way down - he didn¿t even know what was going on - a guat herpetologist (or biologist?) - it was great to see his reaction -

1:37:47 A - ok here is another one - (oscar: Grande! Grande! ) ok - there is a big one right here

slowing down to get it -

1:38:11 - A - you can see the big eyes shining! (Oscar? - oh wow!) si! Esta grande - esta derecha!!!! Rapido rapido!!!! (EXCITING) talk in spanish - VG - talk in sp - as they try to get it -

1:39:43 good FX - clanking - good ambi - good bed here - talking in sp - thru 1:42;18

1:42;19 A - did you see it? it is about that big - that big is about 35-40 cent. - no they are saying it was about 90 cent.

G 1:42:41 ambi - good grunting - ambi - (don¿t know what they are doing) - esta muy cerca! Esta muy cerca! Talk in sp -

1:43:17 - Oscar talking in sp -

1:43:55 Ali - he is talking about using this other tool that he has used in the past - it is basically like a snooze - like a noose - so you (boat motor starts up) - DESCRIPTION OF THIS OTHER INSTRUMENT (not written out here)

1:44:41 - talking in sp - boat motor putter -

1:44:59 A - there is another one right on the (boat motor louder) - derecha!!! Isquierda! (screaming out directions!) in a whisper: a la derecha - paca! Paca!!!!

1:45:47 A - oh carajo! (?)

talk in sp -

1:46:05 A - it got away - it was floating - it was perfect!! It just came out - sitting right there

talk in spanish

1:46:22 A - now it is Oscar Lara¿s turn to - right (in response to span) we are seeing a lot of animals right now but a lot of them - mst of them except for 2 are juvs - that doesn¿t necessarily mean that the pop is very high bc fw of these juvs will make it to adulthood - so that is why it is impt to get an idea of the population structure and not just numbers in general. 1:47:08

talk in sp - laughter -

A - que paso?

1:47:58 - boat motor starts up

talk in spanish

1;49:55 A - we are getting near the village of Paso de Caya? Which is regularly about a 20 min ride from the station - it is an old mayan village - or most of its inhabitants are mayan - they speak Queche

1:50;11 A - Alto! He has got incredible eyesight I am serious

1:50:29 motor cut off - (they see one)

talking in sp -

1:51:05 - A - derecha!!!!!
Good ambi - funny sound ????pole in the water????

1:52:34 zipper FX (is this linda¿s bag holding the DAT???)

1:53:00 A - this is the 8th one we have spotted - (Cj - is this good?) yeah - it is pretty good. Mostly juvs - so it is a - we would like to see more adults of course

talking in sp -

1:53:38 boat motor back on - gen ambi in boat - w/no talking

1:54;58 - another boat in bg

1:55:00 more boat ambi thru 1:58:30

1:58:31 talking in sp

1:59:02 A - apparently we got - he is disoriented (?)we start heading back to the station before we wanted to - it is kind of hard to get oriented when you are in total darkness and you are going east or west until you see something familiar and he just realized that he is actually heading back for the last 10, 15 mins.

1:59:28 boat ambi

1:59:40 talk in sp

2:00:05 gen boat ambi

2:00:25 talk in sp

2;00:40 - A - I think we are going to stop now and head back to the station and we will drop you off and we will continue until -

CJ - this was great!

2:00:59 - boat motor faster - good ambi bed 2:03:04 slow down

2:05:08 END OF DAT

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