cracks in these cliffs are teeming with scorpions: Lagoa Azul.
Photo by Joel Ledford.
CELEBRITIES AND ANTLIONS
Dispatch Number Four - April 30, 2001
Text by Fabio Penny, Computer Services
04.27.01, 2100 hours
Lagoa Azul, Northern São Tomé
00º 24' 23.0"N, 006º 36' 35.8E
We had been
told not to expect to find scorpions on São
Tomé. However, while tending mist nets in our efforts to
survey bats, we had time to search for them in likely places. Joel Ledford,
who had arrived Tuesday, minus his luggage, proclaimed the site an ideal
potential "scorp spot." The cracks in the rock face in the basalt
cliffs of Lagoa Azul proved his instincts correct. Three individuals were
collected, two females and one male, probably in the family Buthidae.
While not a particularly venomous group, they made us more vigilant about
where we put our feet.
there are scorpions in São Tomé! Photo
by Joel Ledford.
04.28.01, 1000 hours
São Tomé home base
"Gigi" Neto, local TV anchorman and SteP UP board member,
interviewed members of our group for tonight's newscast. We held
an old-fashioned "Show and Tell". Bob thanked local ministers
(Agriculture, Environment, etc..), ECOFAC, Step UP and the local
community for their help and continued warm reception. Tomio spoke
of already having collected more fish species than have been recorded
in over 100 years. Ricka spoke about caecilians and our attempt
to unravel the mystery of how they came to reside here. Joel took
the opportunity to show live scorpions and talk about their characteristics.
We were fortunate to have Bermicio, nicknamed "Sapos",
speak of his adventures with our group hunting frogs and day geckos.
Next was Tino spreading the message of conservation through his
own personal experience seining rivers, exploring tree buttresses
and caverns with our group. Douglas also provided the TV crew with
an active live bat for the occasion. Lastly, Ned spoke eloquently
in Portuguese about our efforts to "explore and explain"
emphasizing the importance of community and foreign collaborations
for the greater good.
day, another interview. Photo
by Fabio Penny.
It's often a hit or miss situation when needing to get gas in São Tomé.
After going to several gas stations, we opted to leave one car behind.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team headed south, past Angolares, to review
a couple of small rivers for Tomio.
As the story goes, a ship sank near a small set of islands SE of present-day
Persevaranca (Perseverance) called Sete Piedras (Seven Rocks). The Angolan
slaves/passengers swam the 5km (3.1 miles) to the São Toméan
coast and established the town of Angolares further north. A creole form
of Portuguese was developed by these settlers, and to this day the dialect
is still present in the area. The city today serves as a center for the
arts, with its fine restaurants and galleries. Its special qualities can
be easily compared to that of New Orleans, Louisiana.
After waiting a while, and now with a full tank of gas, Norm and Dong
headed to the English Arts and Cultural Center to document Dani's (one
of our guides) graduation from English School. The two met with Ned and
also Jennifer Edwards, a former World Bank representative and all-around
wonderful person. A representative from the Taiwanese government was there
and invited Dong and the group to dinner at some later time. The rest
of the team returned from the southern coast with few specimens, but having
dined well. The rich culinary tradition of the south coast emphasized
"tentacular" fare. Octopus and other fine seafood have sustained
us throughout our stay.
are used by antlions (Myrmeleontidae myrmeleon) as a mechanism
for capturing their prey, such as ants. Photo by Fabio Penny
the second time in a week, a construction site leads to new discoveries.
Photo by Fabio Penny.
Across the street from our home base
went looking for antlion (Myrmeleontidae myrmeleon) pits at a construction
site across the street. Antlions had never been reported on either São
Tomé or Principé. Norm now has the first specimens ever
collected from both islands! There must have been a thousand pits surrounding
the half-built house. Six individuals were collected and further analysis
will be done back at the Academy. This was a great start to the day, entomologically
0º 24' 23.0"N, 006º 36' 35.8"E
We have visited Lagoa Azul quite often, but find it fascinating every
time. We were able to collect 12 green lacewings (Chrysopidae) on broad-leafed
leguminous trees. This series produced 10 small, but beautifully spotted
lacewings and two others resembling the much larger type collected at
Bom Sucesso. Our thought is that due to the strong winds, and the insect's
relatively short flight path, they prefer to reside on the leeward side
of these trees.
We also found several more skinks (Mabuya), and endemic geckos
(Hemidactylus greefi) running along the rocks. We have had great
success at this location, and in commemoration we took a swim in the warm,
shallow waters of Lagoa Azul.
kitchen will never be the same
watch out! Photo by
arrive back at homebase and relax. Bob, Tomio and Doug have begun
the arduous packing process while the rest of us prepared for the
traditional going-away dinner feast. Dong is our resident chef, and
he did not let us down. He prepared a 5-course meal: a greens soup
to begin, followed by 2 dishes of pork in different sauces, then came
the "triple-funky" (a.k.a. Thrice-Funked") chicken
and finally the marinated snapper. Bravo, Dong!
São Tomé home base
rains poured in the morning, and this was a sign of more to come. The
team went out to Allen's family land and set over twenty pitfall traps.
The evaporating rain created a very hot sauna for us. Still, the traps
are set and now we wait, an activity known as "passive collecting."
Ricka was able to collect several more specimens. This day of relative
rest was well deserved. Plans were discussed about what to do and where
to go, but it's difficult to determine at the moment due to Sarah Spaulding's
(Diatom specialist) unscheduled delay in Lisbon.