25-07-2005 Bemvindo oa Rio

I am now just over a week in Brazil. Arrived on a Saterday and was picked up by Vera. After some breakfast and a shower we went straight away to Cristo Redentor from were we had a great view over the city. Vera said we were lucky because it had been cloudy for some days and now there was not a cloud in the sky. And 'Lucky' is exactly how I feel because the first days here have been wonderful.

After Cristo, a trip trough the Atlantic tropical forest, a swim in the sea, and a bike trip to Copacobano serious work started. Monday morning we left on a lake hunting tour. The trip was well prepared. Vera and Cristina with help from Ruberto and me had pre-selected over 20 lakes on the coast of Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo using satellite images and data from literature. Christina, Vera, Marcio (a student working with Vera), o senhor Geel - our driver- and I were going to check whether the lakes are accessible, have a conductivity lower than < 1000 ìS/cm and are shallow. The composition of the team varied on the way as some of us had to go back to Rio. Furthermore we were joined by local governmental officers, park rangers and scientists working on projects in the neighborhoods. Most of these people had been previously contacted by Vera and Christina. Before arriving to a site the back seat of the pickup turned into a busy office with papers everywhere, a laptop running and two mobile phones ringing frequently. Parabens Vera and Christina!, I think you did a really good job.

Christina, Vera, Marcio, senhor Geel and Eduardo Jales

Despite all the preparations, the lake hunting proved to be no easy task. In total we visited over 40 lakes. Many of them were too saline or too deep. In the 600 kilometers of coast that we covered (in total we drove 2200 kilometers!) we found only between 15 and 19 useable lakes. Of 4 lakes we still have to check the depth.

Vera and Marcio measuring conductivity

We are pretty sure that we did not leave out any lake that meet our requisites so in August we believe we can efficiently start the 'real' fieldwork: lake sampling. I am sure it will be a very different experience. For one, we will change the rise fields in Porto Alegre, the cattle in Uruguay and the soya in Argentina for a landscape with cacao and banana's. Moreover, I also realized that we will have to add some extra items to our luggage: lots of repellent, snake antidote and … a set of extra fingers : -) because this time we will not only be facing “pit-bull'- tararira's but piranha's as well. It will be a serious job to remove these guys from our gill nets.

We were positively surprised by the security on the road and near the lakes. Many times we will be able to camp. This will come in handy because about half of the lakes are situated far away from villages in Nature Reserves. Also, I was (again) wonderfully amazed by the friendliness and helpfulness of the people we met on the road. Everywhere we went we were welcomed and this gave me a very good feeling at the start of this second part of the field campaign.

Vera and Sarian in Rio

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