On Friday, March 11th, 2011 the 8.9 earth quake in Japan and resulting tsunami, created increased ocean activity with the potential for subsequent tsunamis along the Pacific coast of North & South America. President Correa was very cautious and enacted very strong precautionary measures. He declared a national state of emergency, deployed military and emergency resources and ordered people in the Galapagos Islands and coastal areas to seek higher ground. Roads into coastal areas here were closed at mid-day and our coastal communities placed on evacuation notice. Bahia de Caraquez and the Galapagos were identified as high risk. While the seas flooded several low-lying areas in the Galapagos - the damage was minor. Our ocean swell was predicted for 7:00 p:m corresponding with the daily high tide levels. Late that evening we experienced a 40 cm surge in the ocean's level during a receding tide. While we can count our blessings and say it was an emergency preparedness drill here, our hearts and prayers extend to those families suffering loss in Japan.
In January 2010 scientists working in the rain-forest here in Ecuador discovered 30 new varieties of frogs (including a glass frog);
a snail sucking snake with striking red markings and a blunt snout"made just perfectly for jamming into the hole of a snail shell and providing that suction to suck the snail right out";
A gecko that is small enough to sit on the top of a pencil;
frogs which lay their eggs in trees, rather than in water; salamanders that have dispensed with lungs and breathe entirely through their skin; geckos and least four previously unseen types of stick insect.
About 95% of the trees around the Cerro Pata de Pájaro area of rain and cloud forest in the west of the country where these species were discovered have been felled for farming. These animals' habitat is being threatened by deforestation and climate change. As the area is rapidly being deforested some animals could soon be extinct. The rise in temperatures and drought are forcing animals to move to higher elevation in search of cooler, wetter climates. Frogs which depend on the moist tree cover to protect their eggs could be especially at risk.
While we do not wish to compete with The Discovery Channel, enhance your day by joining us for a "whirlwind" tour to learn of the unique fauna resident in Ecuador.
Large mammals are rare here because plant defenses have prevented the evolution of large herbivores that would serve as prey. Ecuador does host about 370 species of mammals, most which live in the tropical regions. These mammals range from the monkeys in the Amazon lowlands to the rare Andean spectacled bear
found in the highlands. The Galapagos Islands have 12 native species of mammals of which 9 are endemic.
In the Andes there are the rare mountain tapirs
(like a pig weighing up to 300 kgs), the rarely seen spectacled bear which is the only bear species in Ecuador can be found in the higher Andean region of the paramo, white tailed deer, pudu,
rabbits, pumas or mountain lions and the Andean fox, are very similar to North America regions.
The most common mammal of the Andes is the llama,
which is domestic and used as pack animals. The vicuna
which is a wild relative to the llama can be seen while driving or walking through the park in the Chimborazo area.
size of a dog, is the world's largest living rodent and lives in the tropical rainforest of the Amazon. There are 30 endemic species of rodents that call Ecuador home.
There are 132 species of bats
accounted for in the country flitting about in search of insects, small animals, fruit, and blood.
There are 31 species of carnivores in Ecuador, members of the cat family include the jaguar, and the ocelots
which are found in the tropical rainforests. Being nocturnal and hunted for their coats they are rarely sighted. The puma
is the most versatile of all the cats in Ecuador having adapted to all habitats it can be found in all regions of Ecuador.
Ecuador's most delightful mammals are monkeys, which include the marmosets,
spider, squirrel, woolly,
In the Oriente, the town of Misahualli, the central plaza has a group of capuchin monkeys and you are sure to get an up close look at these moneys.
Reserva Produccion Faunistica Cuyabeno and Yasuni National Park which are in the Amazonian lowlands and the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve are the best places to see these delightful creatures in their natural habitats.
The diurnal three toed sloth
and nocturnal two toed sloth
can be spotted hanging motionless from tree limbs while walking in the Amazon. We also have a sloth that lives at Saiananda in Bahia.
There are also occasional sightings of river dolphins
in the Amazonian tributaries.
Manatees or sea cows are found in the Amazon rivers.
Ecuador has many other mammals such as the otter, peccaries,
anteaters and armadillos.
The Galapagos sea lion
is a relative to the Californian species, although it is smaller. The females are friendly and inquisitive and a favourite game is surfing the big waves and they also enjoy water polo but instead of using a ball they will use a marine iguana.
The Galapagos Islands are home to many marine mammals, there are 16 species of whales (including the blue whale,
the orca, pilot whale, sperm whale, humpback whale, false killer whale, the Cuvier's beaked whale,
the minke whale and the sei whale). There are also seven species of dolphin the most common including the bottle nosed dolphin,
the common dolphin and the tursiops truncates dolphin.
Ecuador has 350 reptile species of lizards, snakes, crocodiles and turtles which are found in the Pacific coastal plains, and the rainforest of the Amazon.
The Galapagos Islands is the most special location in Ecuador for reptiles. Some snakes and lizards can also be found in the Andes.
The largest snake in the world ( 10 meters in length ) is the green anaconda
found in the fresh water of the Amazon. The green anaconda is an aquatic snake and hunts in the water for it's prey. It can also be seen on the shores of the rivers warming up to digest its prey. These are difficult to find even for trained experts, just as well as we think this is one we would care not to experience personally.
We have 210 different snakes that range from tiny ones of about 15 cm long, up to 6m long.
Lizards are very well represented in Ecuador with many lizards, chameleons and geckos.
Guayaquil at Parque de las Iguanas is a great place to visit to get an up close view of the green iguanas that make the park their home.
The Galapagos Islands has two endemic species of iguanas: the marine iguana
The marine iguana is a prehistoric looking species and is the only sea going lizard in the world. There are two species of the land iguana found on the Galapagos Islands – the Conolphus subcristatus which is orange yellow in colour and the Conolphus pallidus which is whitish to chocolate brown and is only found on the Santa Fe Island of the Galapagos.
There are 20 different species of turtles including marine, aquatic and terrestrial species. The Giant tortoises
are the best known and are found on the Galapagos Islands. The Pacific green turtle is one of the eight species of marine turtle in the world and is only found on the Galapagos Islands.
was washed ashore here many years ago. When she was returned to her natural habitat in the Galapagos, she fell sick and was brought back to Bahia. Migulita is now the school's mascot and when visiting her we usually take some fresh fruit and vegetables to feed her.
The rare American Crocodile
is the only species of crocodile and can be found on the Pacific coast. The spectacled caiman
is common in the Amazon region.
Over 460 species of amphibians are frogs, who fill the still evening air with their sounds. Tree frogs
spend their lives in the tress and lay their eggs in the water that is trapped inside of bromeliads. Poison dart frogs
that are amongst the most brightly coloured species of frogs around the world, their neon colours range from bright red orange with black spots to neon green with black wavy lines. Some of the poison dart frogs have skin glands that exude toxins that can cause death and paralysis to both animals and humans. We have had several dozen different types of frogs visit our garden.
In the second part of our review we will cover the unique birds, fish, and insects resident in Ecuador.