Friday, September 11, 2009


During a GreenTracks' boat expedition up the Tapiche River, all had enjoyed great weather with clear sunrises every day. Everyone was accustomed to getting up early, grabbing coffee or tea, binoculars, and a good seat on the roof of the boat in order to bird watch and enjoy the scenery as the boat slowly eased upstream.

One morning, a bit earlier than customary wakeup, the guide was out on the bow admiring the mist rising from the river's surface. Looking far ahead after the boat rounded a bend, he saw something that looked out of place. As he continued watching, he realized it was some sort of animal in the water, and he knew it had to be large as it was still some distance away.

Grabbing his binoculars, he focused on the mystery and discovered it to be a large tapir (South America's most massive land mammal) swimming across the river. Tapirs tend to be nocturnal, so any sighting during daylight is something special. Quickly he shouted to the Captain's quarters and asked the crew to hold their speed to a minimum. Frantically he ran to each cabin door, banging loudly and telling the dazed occupants to grab their cameras and binoculars and run up on deck.

In a remarkably short period, everyone had staggered up to the bow of the boat and all began training binoculars and cameras on the tapir as the boat grew closer. The previous night had been especially cool and humid, and the air conditioning units in each cabin had really done their job. The problem with that was that all the equipment had become thoroughly chilled such that the lenses fogged when they were exposed to the warm morning air. The guide, who slept in a room temperature cabin, was unaware of this problem so it took a few minutes to sort things out.

Everyone quickly made a line and each, in turn, used the guide's binoculars to admire the great animal as it made its way across the river and up unto the beach. As the boat grew close, cameras were brought into action, but each shot was preceded by a quick wipe of the glass! Everyone was able to see and enjoy the tapir, and we made a note to encourage all to protect their electronics and binoculars from the cold air in their cabins.



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