I will be heading back to Guyana next month to conduct a super quick otter survey during the rainy season. Typically, conducting an otter survey during the rainy season is a futile task. As water levels rise, otter groups move from their holts on the river into areas that are safeguarded from flooding. When the rains come and trigger the otters’ movement, tracking them is virtually impossible due to their wide spread dispersal into the corresponding pond systems along the river. Sort of like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
The past few years have been a little different in terms of rainy vs. dry seasons. During a “normal” rainy season, the river will rise up to 15 ft, swell over the banks and flood into the savannas. The flooded savannas provide perfect spawning grounds for the river’s fish. After the rains, the receding water levels will transfer the abundant fish population of the savannas back into the river. Boom! A perfect system for restocking the rivers!
2017 will mark the 3rd year in a row with inadequate rain fall during the rainy season and the 3rd year that river levels have not risen enough to spill into the savanna. This is an extremely troubling situation for fish populations and all of the creatures who depend on the fish as a dietary staple, including otters, caiman and humans.
Due to the lack of flooding this year, I am hoping to collect data on how otters respond to these abnormal seasonal shifts. I am curious to see if the otters are staying put in the rivers, or if they are still dispersing into the ponds.
Time to get out the rain sticks and do the dance!!