Monday, August 20, 2012

Gabon: Victor update

I just received a message from Jonathan that Victor is now 98 kg!! He is now eating 50 - 60% of his diet in plants daily, and his bottles have been reduced to twice a day, so he's definitely transitioning well to an adult manatee diet. Jonathan reports that some of Victor's favorite plants to eat are red mangrove, hippo grass, and water lilies. Victor's last milk powder shipment should have reached Gabon at the end of last week, and although I haven't received conformation of that, hopefully in this case no news is good news! We are awaiting results of Victor's latest blood tests from a local hospital in Gabon, but all signs point to a healthy, growing manatee making good progress towards being able to survive in the wild.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Back to the USA

Sadly my field season is coming to an end, so I packed up all my manatee samples, as well as the plant and other manatee food reference samples to ship back to Florida for analysis. Besides the actual packing I've been getting all my permits in order for export and import of samples, which actually takes a mind-boggling amount of time and preparation. Permits can take months even years to get, and separate export and import permits are required for plants and wildlife samples, not to mention the research permits both from the USA and Senegal. This is one of those tedious but necessary parts of fieldwork that they never tell you when you're in school, but can make your life impossible if you don't get everything just right. So over the last couple months I've worked hard to get all the paperwork in order, and I'm relieved it's done for now!

Last night I flew back to the USA. Initially I had some trouble at the airport in Dakar because I was also bringing a couple manatee satellite tags back to the USA, and even though I took out the batteries and put a letter in the trunk with them detailing what they are (and even including photos of the tags on manatees), the customs folks were nervous about them (they do look a bit like bombs). I spent about 45 minutes in the basement baggage area trying to convince the officer that the tags are safe, and after he put them through the scanner about 3 times he decided he would allow my baggage on the plane, but told me he wouldn't allow it next time. So I guess I'll have to cross that bridge when I get to it...

When I got back to the departure lounge the airline representative told me I had been upgraded to first class, which definitely made my day! So I'm now back in the USA, heading to Florida and getting ready to start a whole lot of sample analysis. I'm looking forward to the results!