Intro: Do you ever hear, read, watch, learn, etc. about a place that invokes such a vivid, iconic image that no matter what else is happening and you get the chance, you want to go there? Well, that was what I was like when I heard about going to the Amazon. I still have a clay toucan I made in grade 3 when we studied the Amazon… but that’s beside the point. The real point is, it’s the Amazon Rainforest.
This brilliant biome is home to some of the most diverse range of species on earth. From plants to insects, and of course everyone’s favorite, large mammals, the rainforest invokes a true sense of enthrallment, and a much needed refresher to realize to us humans how many spectacular other creatures we really do share this world with.
Continuing on our travels through Brazil with my sister, we took a short flight from Iguazu Falls to Manaus, where we departed on a 4-day Amazon Tour, going up the Urubu River, a subset from the Negro River.
With multiple hours of travel by bus then boat, we arrived at the riverside jungle lodge where the next several days consisted of tropical thunderstorms, piranha fishing , jungle nature walks, and a overnight stay in a hammock within the jungle, among other things of course.
Science-Spheel: Three > One (Physical Geography, Potamology)
Going on about wildlife and biomes, I want to highlight a bit more about what is the real lifeline of the Amazon, the massive Amazon River. So a little Potamology for you (yes I just looked up the word… it means the study of rivers).
The Amazon is a combination of three types of rivers: Negro (black), Branco (white), and Claro (clear). The reasons for these tri-coloured rivers can be traced back to their sources.
Black water rivers originate from the north in the Amazonia were they flow slowly over old land. This allows time for the accumulated vegetation in them to decompose and release organic acids, which turns the waters black (well, more like brown to be precise) and kills bacteria and other parasites (making it safe to swim and home to far fewer mosquitoes).
White water rivers originate from the great Andes Mountain Range in the west. As they initiate from the high snowpack and flow over these young mountain (geologically speaking that is, ~31 Million year ago due to the subduction of the Nazca and Antarctic Plate underneath South America), the rivers accumulates fresh sediments. This results in the white/beige appearance and the rich suspended load makes theses rivers laden with nutrients and more capable of supporting plants and animal life. And finally the clear water rivers, as you can probably guess, have neither a high amount of sediments or organic matter, thus are clear…ish.
Why-You-Might-Recognize-It: Because it’s the Amazon! (Hunger Games ’Mockingjay’)
So I kind of like tying places to movies, just for the fun of it. Though when it comes to somewhere like the Amazon, I think one particular movie or show doesn’t quite do. There are some spectacular documentary series such as Andes to Amazon Lost World from BBC, and the Planet Earth series that talk and show the Amazon in all its glory. When we went on our jungle walk there was a type of bird which I can describe in no better words then a Mocking jay (yes, Hunger Games reference :P). You can see what I mean in my sister’s video The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – [Amazon, Brazil].
From wet to dry seasons, the Amazon rainforest is consistently changing. And with over 5 million km2 it’s hard to really conclude such a vast biome with such a short time.
During the hot, humid days it can seem quite, but as you venture deeper is, stop making such a racket, and especially wait for nightfall, the forest really comes alive. There isn’t a jaguar at every step, but neither should there be!
Being a strong advocate for nature and preservation (and yes, I still can be even if I do work for mining and mineral exploration companies) I try to be aware of human impact on areas. With the much hyped slogans of “protect the rainforest” engrained into us through school, it’s easy to become passive overtime and forget why it was there in the first place. Deforestation has been a major concern within later half of the 20th century. Over 20% of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest has been completely destroyed so far. But there still is hope, and good news. Increased awareness and public/environmental pressure has resulted in changes to the codes, making protected areas, reserves, and parks more profuse. And recently it was just announced that deforestation has hit a record low since monitoring began 24 years ago. Encouraging news, but should be taken lightly.
The Amazon is truly a unique place, I enjoyed my time within it and I hope it will still be there for others to do the same in generation to come.
Thus, in final conclusion… if I have to sum up the Amazon I would have to resort to an oxymoron, for it is both fragile yet strong, and dangerously beautiful.
Until next time, peace!
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