Paul and Gayle are taking a year from their roles in Picton and Belleville and will be teaching at the Maple Leaf International School in Trinidad. We will use this blog to record some of our edventures!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Monkey Business

Before coming to Trinidad I scoured the Internet for sciency things I could get involved in. Much to my excitement I found the Trinidad Field Naturalists. Having attended the odd Prince Edward County Field Naturalist meeting, I was eager to join and learn about the natural history, flora and fauna of this unique island, and maybe even share a "sighting" or two of my own.

By joining the Field Naturalists organization (which by the way is well established, very active group of professional and amateur scientists), I became privy to some great opportunities, one of which Paul and I took hold of today. We went on a hunt for monkeys!

Ok, that requires a bit of clarification. A Masters student from the UK is in Trinidad doing a study on the abundance of Capuchin monkeys on the western end of the island. It turned out she was looking for volunteers to help spot monkeys by walking along 1 km long transects. Sounded easy enough. We can walk, we know what monkeys look like and we like to learn new things. Sign us up.

So our day began at 5 am so that we could meet Eliza at 5:45 in Chaguaramas. By 6:20 we were bush walking with a machete blazing a trail along the beginning of the first of 2 scheduled transects. The first transect provided a steep uphill climb, which ended about 300 m above sea level in a patch of razor grass. Razor grass does exactly what you think it does, it cuts, and painfully so. This 1 km trek took just over 2 hours to complete! The second transect traversed even ground, through bamboo, vines, tall grasses, but thankfully no razor grass. It took only 1 hour.

Setting up the GPS unit.
Razor Grass -- Ouch!

In the end, playing research biologist was interesting. We learned about transects, Trinidad creatures and just how elusive monkeys are. Maybe next time we'll actually see one!

Click here to see more pictures.

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