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Caribbean Rainy Day

We had hoped to have a full team effort beach clean at Fishing Pond the other day but torrential rain stopped us – we had been rain dancing for sometime, the ditches and ponds were drying up and the Frogs weren’t looking too happy, but finally the skies unleashed the heavens and instead our day out turned into a surprise visit to Pax’s Guest house – a lovely tea house in the hills ran by the monks of Mount St Benedict’s monastery.

An assortment of cakes, sweet bread, fruit and tea was served to us on a long wooden table surrounded by antique dressers, candle sticks and exotic flowers. From traipsing around in the mud as sweaty beasts in the rain – how did we get here!?! And wowa! We are in the Caribbean? (Some of us first timers are still pinching ourselves!) The lunch was a treat from Roger, which we greatly appreciated – beautiful and peaceful surroundings over looking hummingbird feeders and avocado trees towards the jungle! We were so civilised, not even an elbow on the table! Though a few of us have forgotten how to use cutlery, never mind which knife was which.

Later in the evening, since the rain had brought out the frogs in abundance, we went on a group adventure up Lopinot Road. Further north of the village we followed a stream into the bush where we heard the calls of Hypsiboas punctatus – the polka dot tree frog! We spotted a few females of yellow colouration lurking in the tall lily pad like plants. We were knee deep in the mud – some wellies temporarily lost and recovered! This male was soon found: his red pattern comes out at night – he is normally green during the day! Oh and Tom found a snake – Sibon nebulata nebulata aka The Cloud Snake – an Expedition pet for the rest of the week but soon to be frozen and dissected by John Murphy….

H. punctatus

The survey team recorded the where abouts, and number of H.punctatus and then it twas offski down the road to our favourite frog city – chicken shack! Here we found adult Leptodaclyus fuscus (below) whistling and many Trachycephalus venulosus mooing loudly! Amongst the mass of  pustulosus and microcephala! We collected samples of tadpoles and fuscus and headed to the car with all our nets and gear.

L. fuscus

H. microcephala

During  the journey home we heard the calls of Bufo beebi, the Trinidadian Toad! A rare sight which none of us had seen before… apart from Roger! An overgrown field next to a mall became our next sampling site. A stream cut through the middle, providing high foliage and shelter for an array of spiders and creepy crawlies to live in. Trekking through the ploughed field, Mark and Roisin heard an usual screeching sound, was it a frog? Well yes, it was, a beautiful L.fuscus. Roisin foolishly went to pick it up only to realise before it was too late that a snake was devouring its hind legs! She was so close  to playing tug of war over its feast… ooops! (Lesson learnt!) Was it a Ferdelance – Bothrops lanceolatus? There are many species in Trinidad which have a similar pattern and colouration in order to seek protection….

The Bufo beebi were caught; a few pairs, one in amplexus, and taken to the lab but unfortunately no spawn yet.

Bufo beebi

The next day a group set off on the long drive Columbus Bay in the South of the Island, where they hoped to find the giant tadpoles, Pseudis paradoxa. A few minor glitches on this trip – the car broke down, there was not a drop of water in the ponds and ditches and we could hear the calls of the adults but couldn’t access the equipment to collect or take photographs as the boot was jammed. Another trip soon and we hope to report back with positive findings! Cheers

Tree frogs are go!

Hey everyone, this is Hannah and Becky and we are studying the climbing behaviour of metamorphosing tadpoles during our time in Trinidad. Our project is a continuation of research carried out over the last two years during previous expeditions.

In the wild metamorphosing tadpoles leave the water to reduce the risk of predation and to search for food. However this may increase their risk of desiccation (drying out) as it is unclear when metamorphs develop the same specialised skin adaptations found in adult tree frogs. They also have an increased surface area to volume ratio compared to adult tree frogs due to their small size, again increasing the risk of desiccation. We are investigating whether patterns of movement vary between species and whether the presence of shelter or other metamorphs  affects an individual’s climbing behaviour.

We collect the tadpoles from various sites across Trinidad such as Caura Valley, Chicken Shack and Lopinot. The species caught so far include Hypsiboas crepitans, Trachycephalus venulosus, Phyllomedusa trinitatis and Hypsiboas boans. Once we have the tadpoles they are taken to the lab and looked after until they begin to metamorphose. As soon as we see the emergence of forelimbs (a sign that re-absorption of the tail is about to begin) the metamorphs are placed (either in singles or triplets) in a specially designed glass case. Each of the three cases are approximately 2m tall and are designed to allow us to film the movement of the metamorphs via digital cameras set up in the lab.

So far everything has gone very well; we have successfully set up the apparatus and have carried out several runs with different species both in singles and triplets. We hope to add more species to our list which could mean having to explore d’island further. All of our metamorphosed froglets have been successfully released back into the wild and are hopefully surviving well!

So far Phyllomedusa trinitatis (phylas for short) are my favourite metamorphs, they are relatively large, dark brown and take longer to complete metamorphosis than the other species. However once they’re fully grown they become beautiful bright green tree frogs. Becky on the other hand loves the little Hypsiboas crepitans (crepis) metamorphs who are very small and bright green. They metamorphose very quickly and are a lovely amber colour with pale brown mottling once fully grown.

Speak soon!

Hannah and Becky

Turtle Team adventures so far

Tom and Roisin have been exploring Fishing Pond beach on the Atlantic coast of the island, East of  the town Sangre Grande. Tonight will be the seventh night for the team on the beach. Along with two other team members, we scoff our dinner and jump in the car for the 2 hour drive to the village. It always makes for an interesting roadtrip – mango trees lining the way, graffiti galore, ferral dogs trying to leap in through the car windows, pot hole craters, looney drivers and colourful corrugated iron roofed houses.

We’ve managed to get a little lost on route to this village more than a few times now, but it’s not a loss, as we get to see more of the island this way!

The first evening we met at the local school where we were welcomed by Sookraj Persad, Co-ordinator of The Turtle Village Trust in Fishing Pond. We introduced ourselves and the project to him and his crew. 

Tom aims to quantitatively analyse the whole nesting process of the Leatherback Sea Turtle,  Dermochelys coriacea. By setting up two cameras, one to record the movements of the hind flippers and one to record the breathing and sounds from the head. It is intriguing to watch the movements of their hind flippers during the different phases of the nesting. We try to film one adult per night – it takes over an hour to film the whole process. Measurements are also taken – distance from the sea, length and width of carapace and hind flippers. Photographs of the face will also be taken as each pink marking on the nose is individual to each turtle, like finger prints for us! This may be useful for future research…

We will also be supporting the community of Fishing Pond by cleaning the debris from the beach, in particular the long hollow bamboo which the hatchlings can become trapped in and the plastic and glass bottles. We haven’t found any messages in bottles yet! We are also trying to arrange visits to schools in the area, to talk about our Turtle work, Scottish culture and wildlife, Trinidad biodiversity and perform our Manno Stream Frog Play.

We are thrilled to be working on one of the largest leatherback turtle rookeries in the world – Sookraj reminds us of this often and kindly shares his knowledge of these miraculous prehistoric creatures with us! He informs us that the local name for leatherbacks is Kalong or Coffin back. Despite all the work the team do, only 25% of the eggs laid reach the sea, never mind come back in 30-40 years time! The Turtle population here is threaten by chemical and waste pollution, global warming, debris, habitat modification and on the rare occasion poaching. The adult leatherbacks live on a diet of jellyfish but can’t differentiate between our plastic bags and their main food source…

The Turtle Village Trust, who focus on tagging and The Wildlife Division, who focus on law enforcement, work in association with The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network  to monitor numbers of nesting females, how often they return, tagging them and cleaning up the beaches. Since late 2011, it is now illegal to hunt turtles in Trinidad and Tobago. The penalty for hunting protected animals without a licence is 1000 Trinidad and Tobago dollars (TTD 1000) or imprisonment for three months. For the three main turtle rookeries on Trinidad it is now required that you need a permit to be on the beach early evening through to sunrise during the nesting season. The patrols by TVT and Wildlife division also check for trespassers.

Briefed on the background of Fishing Pond Turtle Conservation Programmed, we made our way in the dark to  the edge of the windbelt forest, bats swooped overhead, glow flies lit the way and the frogs sang around us. The bugs and beasties have been having a feast, no matter how much DEET or Citronella we use, the sandflies especially have been eating our feet! The locals lead the way through the marsh and over the hills, as we scrambled behind them, thankful for the tree roots to secure our feet on the muddy slopes. Occasionally one of the locals would dart into the forest, flashing his head torch up trees and brandishing his machete – Possum  (aka manicou) hunting, apparently they make a goooood curry!

The Fishing pond region is renowned for its incredible fauna including Red Howler Monkeys and West Indian Manatee. Boa Constrictors and Anaconda’s have been seen in the area too!

Planks of wood float over the marsh, Sookraj’s agile team land the other side in time to watch our feeble attempts at balancing along to keep our toes dry. Time to invest in wellies! The roar of the waves greets us each night and the narrow white sand stretches for 10 km, though we patrol 2km. There is very little light pollution, one oil rig far out at sea and a few villages to the north in The St David region, giving us clear skys for star gazing and avoiding confusion for the baby turtles – once hatched they move towards the lightest part of the horizon, which tends to be the sea. In many cases they are attracted to tourist developments, though new businesses are encouraged to use low level, turtle friendly lighting.

It is important that we only use red light when near the turtles, our headlights all have red film over them – this protects the turtles eyes as it can be disorientating and causes them to change direction or interrupts their nesting process. You will also see that the photographs we take are of the turtles carapace from behind or with no flash so as to cause no harm.

Once on the beach the patrol team go ahead further along leaving us with the taggers. Over 50 gargantuan turtles churning up the sand, clambering over each other, digging up already laid nests to find a free site. We couldn’t believe our eyes!  Here’s Samwise with one of the many beautiful leatherbacks we have seen so far:

And here’s one of The turtle monitoring team tagging a nesting female – the metal tags can only be clipped to her hind flippers when she is in her egg laying trance. A passive-integrated transponder aka PIT tag is also injected into her front flipper – this is more expensive (6 US Dollar per tag and 500 US Dollar for scanner) but is very useful if the hind tags (35 cents) come off.

Though we have seen hundreds of adult leatherbacks and a few hatchlings, we have only seen one Hawksbill turtle,  Eretmochelys imbricata, but many of their tracks! The Hawksbill is much smaller and moves quickly across the sand compared to the enormous leatherbacks. Unique to them, is a sharp beak – they spend much of their life in lagoons and coral reefs consuming shells and the beak helps to open these.

Half way  through the night we stop to refuel with coconuts fresh from the tree! Then it’s back along the beach, through the forest and homeward bound.

The first night on the way home not only did we get a flat tyre but the police stopped us to search us and the car for drugs and fire arms with sniffer dogs. Since then we have had no problems!

Turtling is always a late yin, setting off at 5pm and back home for 3, worth it though! We tend to be left with the thoughts… “Did that just happen?”

More Photos coming soon!

Any questions? Feel free to leave us a Comment!

St Joseph’s Secondary School Trip to Lopinot

Early Monday morning we set off on the drive to Lopinot, one of our favourite collecting sites for frogs and their foam nests! The beautiful flora and fauna of Trinidad is spectacular in this valley and we had a bright sunny day to share it with the pupils – 25 kids and 5  teachers from St Joseph’s Secondary.

We started the morning at the recreational area close by the river, surrounded by towering  bamboo trees creaking in the wind. Here we set up base in the bamboo huts – locals liming closeby playing reggae tunes and cooking their grub!

At the Agua Viva Community Garden we were welcomed by Sanja in her silk gypsy skirt and long flowing black hair. She showed the pupils how to fish with the dumplings on hooks and rods for the tilapia. This is a type of african cichlid also known as the future fish, as it thrives in fresh water and yields 47% protein providing toxic free fish to local restaurants and families.

Ro ranting on… Fishing industries are suffering world wide due to pollution in the food chain, such as mercury and plastics poisoning the fish stocks and other marine life. In the North Pacific Ocean there is a trash vortex in an area the size of Texas which holds an estimated six kilos of plastic for every kilo of natural plankton as well as many a dead marine creature.View the Ocean Preservation Society Page for Information on how you can help…

Anyhooo… Sanja toured us round the herb garden, offering us leaves to crush, smell and taste.Tea tree shrubs, yummy lemon basil, dill for fish sauce, Zebapique for a bitter tea to cure the flu and fever, hindu basil used for worship, and Stevia used as a natural sweetener. A large range of salad leaves, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and chard a growing in the vegetable beds too.

Stevia

Zebrapique

Sanja shared some tips with us including a recipe for an natural organic pesticide spray: Zebrapique leaves crushed with garlic, hot pepper and Azadirachta indica aka Neem, mixed with water. Neem helps to suppress the hatching of pest insects from their eggs and the Zebrapique acts as an insect repellant. We plan to share these tales with the GU Willowbank community garden – a new organic student led garden at Glasgow, encouraging neighbours to grow their own produce, contribute to the communtiy space with arts and music and consider the environmental impact of the food they buy.We highlighted the importance of Organic gardening to the pupils and how it helps to improve biodiversity and  preserve the land and soil, the welfare of the creatures living nearby and on a global level as well as our own health.

And then our tummy’s were a rumbling and it was time to feast! Us Glasgow students dived into  our last nights left overs of pumpkin-apricot-raisin-pasta stew with Roger’s Garam masala wheat and dairy free battered aubergines (who knew that was possible!) and cinnamon plantain! The pupils were sharing spicy mango chow and chicken fried peas and rice with scrummy coleslaw and potato salad – school dinners are banging over here! No lumpy custard!

There was time for a game of football or two under the flamboyant trees with orange flowers before the pupils met the Phyllomedusa tree frogs and the range of stick insects we brought for them the look at. At first fearful of the beautiful wee green frogs with their sticky feet, the pupils soon took to them after a few screams and now love them as much as we do!

Later in the day we explored the leafcutter ant hill, the river and the trees – Guava, Banana, PawPaw, Coconut, Almond, Coffee and Cocoa! Epiphytes and Bromeliads were growing in the trees and creeping Philodendrons and vines wrapping round their trunks. The river was full of guppies and a few cichlids locally known as coscarob as well as tadpoles – most likely the Hypsiboas boans aka Gladiator Tree Frog and the Cane Toadpoles (as Gill likes to call them!)

As the heavens opened up above us, torrential rain falling – us Scots felt quite at home –  we ran towards to the bat cave!  We had saved the best til last – the orange, spikey, Helconia flowers lined the path towards the cave entrance, scampering up the rocks – we dried off inside and ventured in. The brave pupils walked all the way to the far end of the cave guided by torch light; a few shrieks were heard as bats swooped out from their afternoon roosting and cockroaches crawled over their toes. We learnt that there are over 40 species of bat on d’island: many frugivores, insectivores, a few frog eating species and two vampire bats!

Thanks again to the pupils and teachers of St Joseph’s Secondary School for a fantastic day, lovely to have met you all – we learnt as much as you did!

We look forward to visiting you again next year and perhaps meeting some of you in Glasgow if you are coming over for the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Look out for an album of photos from this trip in our Gallery section – coming soon.

Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists Club Evening

One of the oldest clubs in the Caribbean, the T and T Field Naturalist Club has been sharing knowledge of the islands natural history and encouraging activities which lead to appreciation and conservation of the natural history of the island for over 100 years! The club hosts excursions and talks for members and we were lucky to be in the audience as Roger and John presented on The Amphibia of Trinidad and the Cryptic Species of Herpetofauna of Trinidad and Tobago.

Roger spoke of the ground breaking work of his mentor Julien Kenny who he worked with when he first visited the island in the 1980’s.

He also informed us of the 9 Trinidadian amphibian species registered as threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources –  IUCN Red List. The majority of which are found in high abundance on these isles but are endemic to regions of Trinidad and therefore  described as vulnerable though some are under little threat . Threats can include, habitat loss/degradation, the pet trade and possibly the Chytrid fungus has reached Trinidad – it has had severe damaging effects in other amphibian populations. The Golden Tree Frog, Phytotriades auratus (see photo below) for example is found only in the mountain area of El Tucuche with a population of approximately 20,000 and holds a status of Critically Endangered. P. auratus uses a giant bromeliad plant for shelter and reproduction and is not known to call.

Since Julien Kenny’s work, there have been new discoveries of frogs as some calls had previously been mistaken as insects or thought to have been regional accents of already identified species. We experienced this uncertainty the other evening out at Lopinot when some of the team heard a new call to them – we debated whither it was a frog or a bug! After lots of searching one of the members of the Field Naturalists Club found the source of the call – a Hypsiboas punctatus aka the Polka dot tree frog who changes colour from green to red as night falls.

Further research into Julien Kenny’s discoveries led to latin name changes and has caused much confusion in the field. These cryptic species have been categorised into different families after DNA analysis – Roger shared examples of this, one being the Cane toad, known commonly in Trinidad as Crapau, Bufo marinus globally, but its accurate latin name is Rhinella marinus.

Roger also spoke of the deliberate introduction of invasive species Eleutherodacttylus johnstonei (what a lovely name – rolls off the tongue well!)  which astonishingly lays eggs which hatch directly into frogs! It is thought that this species may be a threat to the native direct development species, Pristimantis urichi.

The presentation highlighted the continued involvement of students of Glasgow University over the past 18 years, 53 reports have been published on Trinidad and Tobago fauna as well as 4 pHD thesis on frogs and turtles.

We hope this work will continue for many years to come – so much to discover and explore!

The Frog Survey Team’s First Week Adventures!

Hey guys, Mark here.

Here is just a little bit about the frog survey team and what we have been up to this week. The frog survey team is made up of Mark, Gary and Aaron. We are surveying locations around the north of the island by listening to frog calls and taking sound recordings; with this we can get an idea of the numbers of frogs in each area.  This week we have been identifying our areas we will be surveying and taking some preliminary sound recordings.

The areas we are going to be surveying are: Mount St Benedict, Maracas Waterfall, Caura Valley, Simla, Mont Bleu and El Tucuche (a very large mountain where we hope to see the Golden Tree Frog!)

Maracas Waterfall

We are working with several species, such as Flectonotus fitzgeraldi – Mount Tucuche Tree Frog, Pristimantis urichi – Lesser Antillean Robber Frog and Mannophryne trinitatis – Trinidad Stream Frog.


Take a listen to some of our early sound recordings

Caura Valley- listen for the high pitch squeak, this is Pristamantis urichi.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PU76_OsKVe0&feature=youtu.be

Simla – listen for the lower pitch “squeaky click”, this is Flectonotus fitzgeraldi.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMLatVjtii4&feature=youtu.be

As you can hear, some of the frog calls are rather similar. Yesterday we had a frog call lesson from Gillian and we are all starting to recognise each of the different calls. It might take a while, but we will get there!
This week has been very exciting and we are all super keen to start the main part of our surveying work and get out in the field as much as possible and see lots of the amazing Trinidad wildlife!

We hope to begin our surveying soon and we will keep everyone posted on our work.

My time in Trinidad so far…

Orite folks Robbie here, thought I’d let you know how I’ve found the visit so far. I’m slowly but surely getting used to the heat and humidity out here however, we’re all still struggling with the mosquitos, not to mention the 8 a.m starts!. Once I’m up and awake the days so far have been fantastic whether I’m helping with the projects in the lab, out collecting or just chillin’. My highlight so far was the river walk, I thought the rainforest was particularly impressive.  I’m also looking forward to a trip to fishing pond tonight with the turtle project team.

I’ve found the culture on the island much different to Scotland, much more spicy food for a start and the locals are very freindly (not to say that Glasweigans aren’t). Everyone will greet you good morning or say hello.

Although the days seem long as we’re on the go from early, this week has flown by and I hope to carry on in the same fashion! Someone else will be on next week to give you there thoughts on our stay so far. I’m off to make fajitas for dinner, cheerio!

The Marianne River Walk

The group setting off on the river adventure

We had our first explore of the North Coast yesterday to Blanchisseuse Bay where we enjoyed the roaring Caribbean waves and had our lunch before we began our trek up the Marianne River. Pelicans were diving into the surf as we pulled tai chi moves while the waves crashed over us! We were convinced Teradactyls were flying overhead until Paul informed us they were the glorious Frigate birds, with a huge angular wing span! After a little  bambo limbo and a game of toss the coconut in the river pool we began our swimming, walking and stumbling up stream. Straight away the flora and fauna left our jaws dragging along the bottom of the river! Black and orange crabs, blue morph butterflies, an assortment of parrots, teeny frogs and numerous fish with leopard markings! The beautiful peace lilys and vines – this was an exotic surprise to those of us who had never been to Trinidad before!

Splashing around!

We stopped off on numerous occasions along the river to identify frogs, to swim and take pictures. Our first break came at an over-hanging log, which we all climbed and jumped off (hundreds of times).

Our next stop was unintentional, as some of us struggled (for half an hour) to overcome some rapids. This came at amusement for those of us who had already passed the rapids.

a few bumps and bruises later – we reached the waterfall!

After conquering what felt like Mount. Everest (a one foot waterfall) we had reached the top! Here we rested and took our photographs.  For those of us with energy remaining we climbed a slimy 20 foot rock (it felt much higher at the top) and jumped into the plunge pool. To our dismay we then realised we had to walk the whole way back!

mid flight

The First Frog Orchestra Experience

What an adventure last night was! We  set out with all our sound recording equipment, nets and buckets in stylish socks and sandal attire as the sun was setting.

Driving through the winding roads on the way to Lopinot we could here a chorus of frog calls but nothing prepared us for the crescendo we were to hear as we stepped out the car at the Chicken Shack area. An abandoned over grown hollow with high grass and streams, well sheltered with an assortment of trees and shrubs – the ideal habitat for a range of frog species. Below is a photo of the Hyla crepitans aka the flying frog. This wee guy was lurking in the streams calling loudly ‘ rrrrr rrrrr’.

In the hollow we were excited to find a species which is now rare in the area – Elachistocleis surinameasis –  a burrowing frog which feeds on termites and ants! It has orange markings on its tummy and a wee pointy nose. We almost lost him too as he attempted to burrow to the ends of the earth! We are also debating – did we find the Elachistocleis ovalis? This species has a vertebral stripe but the markings are just not making sense! John Murphy suggested that these species are rare closer to St Augustine nowadays because of the sugar cane plantations and the incesticides that are used on the crops. The chemicals tend to be of a compound closely related to estrogen, perhaps the chemicals are affecting the frogs reproductive activities and decreasing population numbers.

The Trachycephalus venulosus (above) aka the Warty Tree Frog could be heard barking deeply in the trees – beautiful golden eyes!

In the area the Physalaemus pustulosus aka tungara frogs were having a mating frenzy – amplexus pairs were in abundance much to Mhairi’s delight! She is collecting pairs for her experiments back at the lab. Their calls were pretty disco, reminding us of popping a lid aff a bottle o coca cola (plenty of that over this way – we live close by the factory). These wee guys have two different types of calls, chucks and whines. The calls with chucks are more impressive to the females, however the frequency of this call is easily detected by the predatory fringed-lipped bat, Trachops cirrhosus, so whines are used as they produce a different frequnecy but are favoured less by females. This creates an interesting tradeoff with sexual selection opposing natural selection.

Further along the road we drove til we found last years prime spot for Phyllo medusa. The vegetation had been cut back and burnt in areas which we had seen earlier in the week but we ventured along any way to check if any remained and to record our findings. We found two of these charasmatic creatures chilling on the muddy hill slope branches over looking a small stream. Driving back home the stars were out twinkling and bats were swooping over head along the road. Cup o tea and bed!

Frog call music coming soon – Have a listen to the froggy choir – can you identify any of the species?

We are alive!

The whole team are now safe and settled and starting work in Trinidad!

Apoligies for the delay – but we are now online! Let the story telling commence!

Gill, Tom and Roisin arrived with Roger on Monday evening to set up camp for the rest of the team arriving on Thursday there. Stepping out of the airport the breezey wave of heat welcomed us as we gazed on the Juarassic Park Mountains of The Northern Range. Accompanied by Paul Hoskisson a Strathclyde University lecturer of Microbiology, the pre-expedition party organised the cars and lab equipment including the gargantaun glass tanks for the Tree Frog Experiments. And then it was onwards for an adventure up Lopinot Road with Herpetologist John Murphy and his Research assistant Gabriel. Here the mini team explored the pools, normally favoured by Mannophyrne; however the rain was in short supply and few tadpoles were to be seen. Further along the road were ditches –  prime habitat for finding the Physalemus pustulosus nests (see the frog in the image below – this one was captured lurking aboot an abandoned home! Dwelling in the walls!) Also at this spot were the foam nests of Leptodactylus fuscus, aka the whistling frog, which unlike the pustulosus which is visible on the surface of the water, this frog creates its foam nest in the clay soil next to the stream. In order to find this nest the ground must be gently poked (we used our dinner spoons!) til you can feel a hollow and see the foam which protects the eggs. Paul is collecting samples to take back to the UK to further examine as the foam is thought to have antibactieral properties; and it may be possible to use the proteases which make up the foam for skin grafting and wound healing treatment.

While looking for frogs and tadpoles in the Northern Range Mountains of Trinidad at Lopinot Village, locals were liming by the river, Bob Marley playing in the background – we paddled down stream and found a large Hyla boans nest of spawn surrounded by leaves – not a bad start! Samples are now in the lab at University of the West Indies.

The rest of the team arrived on Thursday afternoon safe and sound. Twas bold hairy ginger Mark’s 21st Birthday so a feast was had with pumpkin stew, beers and cake!

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