Friday November 9th, 2001

It’s Sunday today.

A number of the team are away tonight staying with families in a small village - houses on stilts built high on a sandbar - so that they can look for turtles laying their eggs.

Some of us have spent much of the day ferrying the 20 miles between Seamaster and the village with the last run finishing on dark - the sun well gone and little twilight left.

However, the colours reflected from the calm waters of the river made it all worthwhile.

What wasn’t so nice was to watch a turtle placed upside down over a fire - the standard way to cook one it seems. At first glance I noticed the legs and feet moving frantically as the heat hit - so I walked away to the edge of the river. Then I thought better of it and returned to find that it had actually been killed first.

I know that these shy, poor, people probably need turtles to sustain them.

But their government has decreed it an illegal act.

Knowing the background but understanding the practical situation of the present, I am not quite sure where I stand on the issue.

Sustainable practises may be the only salvation for a species that will otherwise face certain extinction.

Tomorrow our crew in the village hope to watch the collection of “aquarium” fish from further up the river.

This is a trade endorsed by the government as an alternative to (illegal) logging. “Sell a fish and save a tree” is the motto.

I wonder how sustainable this practise is or will be, if many more people join in.

As we sat in the cockpit discussing the day’s activities, with Miguel’s vessel Iguana tied alongside, the eyes of some large caimans could be seen nearby, glowing bright orange in the torch beam.

Those who stayed behind on Seamaster while we ran the ferrying trips in the dinghies reported a 5 metre black caiman on one side of our vessel this morning - and 3 boto (pink dolphin) on the other - at the same time.

So much for the theory that you can swim safely if the dolphin are around.

We are going caiman spotting in the kayaks in a few minutes.

We plan to keep together for obvious reasons.

It is a perfectly still night with no moon yet - the black jungle is hard to see, even though it is only a few metres away.

But for much of the life around here, now is the time to be out and about.

While we are looking for the caimans, we are not sure what will be looking at us!!

This is the Rio Negro.

This is the Amazon.

All the best from the Seamaster crew.

Kind regards,

Peter.