Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Hi All,

As you read this post, we're hiking down to San Gerardo with no internet and no cell phone reception.  So this was written earlier and post dated. 

Sunday afternoon, Tim talked to students about reforestation, in preparation for the research they did today (Monday).  Then we ate andSunday evening, Dr. Richard "BATMAN" LaVal came to chat to us about bats.  Its not clear t o me how long he's been working with bats, but he said he first caught bats in Costa Rica in 1968!  First he talked to students about bats...

Dr. Richard LaVal, literally THE bat man of Costa Rica.  His expertise, knowledge, and experience was amazing.  There are about 1,300 species of bats in the world, several of which Dr. LaVal discovered.  In Costa Rica alone there are 114 species of bats.  And, there are an unbelieveable 60 species around the town of Monteverde. Dr. LaVal reported on a cave in San Antonio that has over 20 million bats!

We caught just 3 bats in mist nets.  It was a slow night.  A mist net is a very fine net (a little like a cafeteria lady's hairnet) that is about 50 feet long and 5 feet high.  Most bats can't see it with their echolocation, and they fly right into the net.  Dr. LaVal and his daughter and grandson were very careful with the bats.  You could tell they all really cared deeply for the animals.  I believe this is a fruit bat, which is an important pollinator.  You can see the bat's fur in this picture.  On the wings you can see scars from flying, hitting things, and maybe being attacked.  Dr. LaVal said that when their wings get torn, the skin is extremely fast healing.

This bat has relatively small feet.  Some predatory bats have larger feet grasping prey, but this fruit bats don't need that adaptation.  In general, the bats are VERY diverse.  The largest have wingspans of around 5 feet.

Another fruit bat.  We were careful not to take a lot of flash pictures, so as to not stress the bats.  Dr. LaVal said that bats typically have 1 litter with just 1 baby bat per year, and some spieces live longer than 40 years.  He mentioned that some 600,000 bats are killed by wind turbines in the US yearly - an example of something that most people think of as clean, environmentally friendly energy not being quite so environmentally friendly....

I don't know what I'm looking at, but guide extraordinaire Deb Hamilton, Tim Parshall, Ariana Becker (ENVS 2016), and Naturalist / Artist Mark Wainwright are looking at the camera.

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