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2006 trip to the Colombian Chocó


This expedition was organized by Professor Adolfo Amézquita and Juliana Gomez, director and graduate student respectively, of the Ecophysiology of Behavior and Herpetology Group, or GECOH, at the Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia. During this trip I was sponsored by a Fulbright Teaching and Research Fellowship, and hosted by the Universidad de los Andes.

Most recent update: September 6th, 2008.

Click on the thumbnails below to see the larger images.

Photo of the plane that flies from Medellin to Nuquí.

Fly Satena — A comfortable if not totally reliable airline. I rather enjoyed my extra four hours in Medellin, and although they did destroy my bottle of viche (home-brewed Chocó moonshine), luckily I had bought two extras. I'm only sad I didn't get a photo of the snappy uniforms with matching hats the stewardesses wear. The larger photo shows Juliana and Camilo helping unload the plane on the tarmac in Medellin.

Photo of back side of El Amargal station.

Estación Biológica El Amargal — A view of the back side of the main building of El Amargal station, including the kitchen, dining room, staff bedrooms, and a few guest bedrooms. Longitude -077.5026, latitude 05.5706).

Photo of beach in front of El Amargal station.

Beach in front of El Amargal Station — This beautiful beach is crawling with pop-eyed crabs that make tiny sand sculptures.

Photo of calling <i>D. histrionicus</i>.

Dendrobates histrionicus — This little machito was the main motivation for our trip! To see the approximate distribution of this species, click here, but if you look at the map, note that this frog was photographed on the coast at that point or peninsula located at or below the same "latitude" as the word "Colombia".

Photo of juvenile <i>Atelopus spurrelli</i>.

Atelopus spurrelli — I was very happy to see that members of this genus still live on in nature because in Costa Rica and Ecuador the entire genus has been reduced to just a few populations, with many species feared extinct. This photo is of a juvenile or subadult. See GAA range map here. Again, note that this photograph was taken about 200 meters from the beach.

Photo of Blue-eyed snake.

Blue-eyed snake — I found this beauty inside a rotting log. I thought it was a member of the genus Atractus, but experts tell me it is Geophis and very likely an undescribed species.

Photo of <i>E. anomalus</i>.

Strabomantis anomalus — This big female I found nestled on the rocks in a stream during the day time. The photo shows the exact position where I found her. This frog suffered under the recent upheavals in amphibian taxonomy. It was in the genus Eleutherodactylus for most of the last century, then it became Craugastor in 2005, then Limnophys in 2007, and received its current genus name in 2008. To see the known distribution of this species, click here.

Photo of <i>Agalychnis spurrelli</i>.

Agalychnis sp. — When I first heard this frog calling from the tree near the station, I freaked out. I was sure that I was hearing A. callidryas and I was about to log the first Colombian record outside of a botanical garden. But it has no stripes on the flanks, and has darker eyes. My Colombian colleague said it was A. spurrelli, but that species should have more toe webbing. I'm hoping a friend of mine from C.I. Colombia can help me sort this out soon. The distribution of A. spurrelli can be seen here. Another relative, A. litodryas, occurs north and south of the Colombian Chocó, as seen on this map from the GAA website, but this species, too, should have more toe webbing.

Photo of <i>Agalychnis spurrelli</i> on a bottle of Colombiana.

Las Colombianas — Una rana colombiana y la gaseosa Colombiana.

Photo of a little girl from nearby town

Kids from Portado — Be careful carrying a camera from Arusí to Thermales, because in between you will cross a river and pass Portado, where the kids go crazy to have their pictures taken with a digital camera and then look at the little photos. These kids were all super sweet. Now I have tons of photos much like this one! They called me "Paisa," a person from the Department of Antioquia, Colombia, until I confessed I was a gringo. Then they wanted to practice English.

Photo of a little girl from nearby town

Portrait of girl from Portado — I forgot this girl's name (Monica?).

Photo of crab with eyes that go up and down.

Crab: cat-eyed or pop-eyed — Compare the thumbnail with the big photo.

Photo of dead Guagua (<i>Agouti paca</i>

Guagua (Agouti paca) — "Guagua" is the common name for this giant rodent (and it's the name of player number 2 on the Ecuadoran selection for the World Cup 2006). This poor fellow (the rodent, not the Ecuadoran) became our good-bye dinner on our final night at the Station. ¡Que rico!

Photo of students and staff at El Amargal Station.

Staff bid the students farewell — Standing in the station are station staff member, Jazz Martinez, and our expert guide (and rescuer), Henry, whose last name I never learned. Sitting with her hand on her head is the station manager Luz Eugenia Tobón. Students sitting left to right are: Luciana Kreutz Erdtmann (my fellow foreigner on this trip), Muñooooooooz, Iliana, Natalia, Maria Paulina, (Luz Eugenia,) Juan "Pajarito" Camilo, and the course TA and organizer of the whole trip Juliana Gomez.

Photo of half of herp class in Medellin

Two hours in the Parque Lleras neighborhood of Medellin — Thanks to Satena airlines we were treated to an unexpectedly extended layover in Medellin on our way from Nuquí to Bogotá. Left to right are undergraduate students Natalia, "Pajarito," Muñoz, Iliana, Marcela, Dalila (our "native guide" to Medellin), and yours truly.

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