Wildlife

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Having grandchildren and watching the movie Finding Nemo more times than I have counted, always brings to mind the numerous animated sea turtles riding the Gulf Stream, at a tremendous rate of speed.  In watching this, I can’t help but think of the tremendous distances that some species of sea turtles travel in the course of a year — even more astounding the distance traveled over their life time. 

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It is Endangered Species Day and we’re turning our focus to some of the critically engendered wildlife that you may spot on International Expeditions’ nature-focused journeys. We hope that by seeing wildlife in its precious habitat, you’ll be inspired to protect and improve the world we share.

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The Galapagos fur seal is the smallest fur seal, with six other fur seals in other areas of the world being larger. The scientific name, Arctocephalus, translates to “bear head” as its face and head are small with fairly large ears and a very pointed snout. The Galapagos fur seal has very large eyes which aid in their foraging strategies of being nocturnal. Through long term studies, it appears that fur seals prefer small moon phases for feeding at sea and during full or big moon nights, the fur seals remain ashore. This may be a self-preservation tactic.

May 06, 2013

Beware of the Boto?

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The enigmatic pink river dolphin, aka Boto, of the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers is an aquatic creature that many guests to the region can’t wait to observe. Most guests on IE’s Amazon River cruises do not come away disappointed as these lovely creatures are fairly abundant in many areas of the Peruvian Amazon.

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Warthogs are certainly one of Africa’s most bizarre creatures. At first glance, the warthog looks somewhat like a pig of “some sort.” However, when viewed closely or through binoculars, they are actually much stranger than just a type of pig. 

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The green iguana is one of the iconic species of the neotropical rainforest. This species has an extensive range stretching from Northern Central America southward throughout the Amazon Basin. They’ve also been introduced in South Florida, as well as the lower Rio Grande area of South Texas. Green iguanas are the largest lizard in the Amazon Basin, including the Peruvian Amazon, and large males may reach six feet in length. Females are considerably smaller, reaching about four feet in length. 

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The Sally Lightfoot crab is one of the world’s most beautiful crabs. Wow, how often does one hear the two words “beautiful” and “crab” in the same sentence? Well, this is certainly deserved as this hand-sized crab is ornately colored with red, orange, purple and blue coloration. These gorgeous creatures abound throughout the Galapagos Islands, and their typical niche is right at the tide’s edge on lava rocks. It does not matter if it is high tide, low tide, daylight or dark these crabs are at work feeding on algae.

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Leaf-mimic katydids are one of the marvelous designs of nature that IE guests typically observe during nocturnal walks on Amazon rainforest trails. These insects, which are comprised of a number of at least 13 different genera and over 100 species, have been described from Central and South America.

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International Expeditions' Director of Program Development Bill Robison is currently in Indonesia researching travel options. He sent us this photo and story from the road. You can see his other photos on IE's Facebook page.

March 21, 2013

Piranha Do Not Eat People

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The piranha conjures up all sorts of thoughts, many of which are based on movies, where piranhas consume anything that enters or falls into the water. Fortunately, this is not a usual circumstance and typically in the Amazon Basin, “People eat piranhas, piranhas do not eat people!” 

In free-flowing rivers and streams, piranha are incredibly abundant fishes, and although the red-breasted piranha appears to be the most abundant, there are also black piranha, white piranha and even the big fruit-eating pacu is a type of piranha. 

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