Today we started by meeting up local collaborators to ask about local community and to plan a visit to at least one. Aripuanã River is a beautiful dark water river, that shows several branches towards the end where it finally meets Madeira river. During the early morning we went for a talk with local authorities that recommended us to go to the “ecological friendly” model local community called S. Felix, we also talked with the director of the RDS Juma (a type of conservation unit) and after everything looked in place and everyone was happy with our plan we went to meet Mezaki, our boat skipper so he could take us to the first community. The plan was to do sampling in both margins of the river, to include a geographical barrier in our model. We arrive at S. Felix by around 9AM. Interestingly, as soon we jumped out of the boat, some earthworm casts were seen on the river border, and, guess what, possibly a new species. We went up to Terra firme and after meeting the local leader we split again into the “digging” group and the ethno group. So Marie and I went with a local to one of the dark patches under a 10 year old secondary forest. There we were able to catch 3 different species, including Pontoscolex corethrurus After returning from the forest, Andre and Sara were still doing finishing the interviews. While we waited we met with some locals that after seeing us dirty and tired, offered us fresh coconut water, it was delicious, one of the best things you could get in that moment, it felt like a dream.
S. Felix is considered a model community, is clean and amazingly organised, everything is in it is place and is even possible to observe some innovation and more modern approach to manioc processing.
After Andre and Sara finished, we met all together and spend a while socialising with locals, Andre seems like family member to them, so they are always happy to see him. While talking under a manioc processing unit (where we also got some amazing manioca flour) a couple of kids started to dig, exactly where the discharge from manioc smashing end, and voilà a potentially new species was found by a 5 year old Ezequiel, maybe this one will get his name.
It was becoming late and we still wanted to go to another community called Barbosa on the other side of the river. We took some time to find the proper hole to cross the Várzea to the other side, as there was a branch of land between. After that was a quick ride to the community. There we were welcomed, it was a small community of only five “palafita” houses. We were told by our skipper that leishmania was suspected in that area, and as soon we jumped out of the boat a young boy had a awful wound in the leg, couldn’t be more obvious that leishmaniasis was the reason. We still went to the forest to catch some worms, two species were found, one was P. corethrurus. While digging I observed some of the leishmaniasis mosquitoes. I spontaneously grabbed one with my hand, and the boy told me “that’s the dangerous one”. It is a small mosquito, completely white and looks like a floating feather. We tried to call the boy’s attention to go asap to the city to get some medical assistance and also talked to the local leader about it, it is a awful feeling facing this reality and be completely useless, everything needs to be done though their local leaders and I also felt that are a bit forgotten by local authorities. After sampling, it was getting really late, so we decided to jump into the boat and return. We still did a quick sampling in a different site, where there was an abandoned house surrounded by a nice and rich orchard that had outgrown and spread without control. We suspected that this was a site built on a dark earth so that was the reason that made us go there in the first place. The soil was blackish and potentially a dark archaeological soil, though very few daylight was left. We quickly got a soil sample and some more P. corethrurus. We arrive at Novo Aripuanã around 6:30 pm and went to the hotel. Tired but happy with the sampling, three different sites and a couple of additional earthworm’s species. During dinner time we discussed a bit about the day results, it was a positive one. Tomorrow we will try to sample a site named Lagoa do Xindua that’s located on the west side of Madeira River. Now, we need to have some rest.