JBL Expedition 2016: Day 2 – Orinoco Camp and Piranha River

Our eyes opened as the sun went up. Howler monkeys and frogs had woken us well before breakfast, so we took the opportunity to explore the camp in daylight for the first time. Then we sat down together for a breakfast of scrambled eggs and pitta bread, had a short team leader meeting, and set off in 6 small groups to the different destinations.

There now follows Team 3 and 4’s report: We packed our bags for the day with everything we needed for snorkelling, photography and water testing. We all went by speed boat to the north-western tributary of the Orinoco, the so-called Piranha River" Oriduhana“, which is a blackwater river with aquatic plants, bad visibility and a lot of piranhas.

On the way we managed to see a lot of animals. Turtles, sitting on branches sticking out of the water, spiders, frogs and grass hoppers on the leaves of water hyacinths, several parakeets, weaver birds and blue-yellow macaws, kingfishers and monkeys. Even before we arrived we had netted some shrimps, tetras and small cichlids in our catch nets.

Whenever an indio boat approached, our guide stopped them to show us the fruits of their labours. And that’s how, on our very first stop, we came across the delights of caterpillars from the tree of life, which Matthias and the guide ate alive, just like the indios do.

When we arrived most of us left the boat and started snorkelling around in the area. We quickly came across some fiddler crabs which live in small caves under mangroves. After that we searched the entire slope under water.

Here we found lots of small tetras. Most common was the X-ray tetra (Pristella maxilaris) and cichlids, such as young Hemichromis spec. and Crenicichla regani, but also small livebearer species. The other part of our small group went ashore to search for scorpions, small snakes and insects.

And they also made some finds there. You will find the exact species listed later in the more detailed expedition reports along with photos and some videos.

Right next to the boat our guides and 2 group members caught piranhas which were over 30 cm long – that was a sight to see, because the majority of the group was snorkelling right beside the boat as the piranhas were being pulled out of the water at a rate of one a minute. The teeth of the animals were so strong, that they just bit through the reinforced fish hooks (with several windings), with the chicken skin at the hook and all.

We returned to the camp for dinner, and had rice, goulash with locally grown vegetables and coleslaw.

From there we set off on the second part of that day’s programme and visited an indigenous family (Javinoco) near the lake, with their dugong, dogs and cats. Here we were able to get an impression of life at the Orinoco for the first time and what it means to be a native there. In the evening, after we had returned to the camp, we were able to explore the surroundings of the camp on our own in 2-er kayaks in peace. Not so easy in a small logboat!

The sun was so aggressive that all of us had sunburnt knees by the end of the day – LPF 50 was not enough.

After dinner we listened to a lecture, given by Dr. Wolfgang Staeck, about biodiversity at the Orinoco Delta.

And here are more than 50 further pictures to give you an impression of the day. If you have any questions, just write them in the comments box.

© 17.04.2016
Matthias Wiesensee
Matthias Wiesensee
M.Sc. Wirtschaftsinformatik
JBL GmbH & Co. KG

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