Biologist Guide Matt leads Herpetology Research in the Amazon
One of the things that makes Rising Tide Explores the most unique kayak tour and rental company in Naples and Marco Island is that our guides are real local biologists and ecologists who actively conduct scientific research to learn more about our unique backyard. When our guides aren’t paddling the mangrove tunnels of the Rookery Bay Reserve, we are out exploring the everglades and other parts of the planet to increase our understanding of the natural world.
Matt instructing his research team on how to properly capture and ‘tube’ venomous snakes during their study. IN HIS RTE SHIRT!
Featured Guide: Matt Metcalf
Some of you may have paddled with our guide Matt Metcalf, local herpetologist and instructor at Florida Gulf Coast University. The word herpetologist comes from the Greek work ‘herpeton’ which means ‘creeping animal’ and it is defined as someone who specializes in the study of reptiles and amphibians. If you’ve had the pleasure of exploring with Matt, you’ve probably learned that HE LOVES SNAKES. Matt’s thesis research at FGCU looked at the spatial ecology of Eastern Indigo Snakes, a federally endangered species, in the Rookery Bay Reserve. He also regularly conducts research on Diamondback Rattlesnakes and pythons on FGCUs campus and throughout Southwest Florida when he is not leading kayak tours and teaching biology at the university.
So what is Matt up to now? Matt is currently on a research trip in Peru! Leading a team of other researchers, Matt was tasked with conducting a 2-month long survey of reptiles and amphibians within the Santa Cruz Reserve in the Amazon Rainforest to collect baseline data on local populations. As you might imagine…Matt is like a kid in a candy shop as he has been running through the jungles catching varieties of reptiles and amphibians that many never get to see.
Living in a remote part of the Peruvian Amazon, Matt had to fly into Lima and complete a rather extensive route before arriving at his research site. After landing, he had to take a smaller plane to Iquitos where he boards a river boat to Mazan before getting on a rickshaw to get to another tiny boat which takes him to a tiny house on the side of the river where he must hike another 30 minutes to his current research station. PHEW! The heat and the bugs were an annoyance at first, but Matt quickly forgot about them as he began his work. He has been in the jungle for about 1.5 months now conducting his research, but did manage to make a few trips including one to Machu Picchu!
To conduct his surveys, Matt is laying out drift fence traps. Drift fences act as a wall that herpetofauna will run into as they move through the landscape. They tend to follow along these trap lines until they reach a trap at the end of the line that will hold them until they can be observed and recorded upon checking the traps. Matt and his team move the traps at night to sample a variety of areas throughout the reserve. So far, he has logged over 200 species of reptiles and amphibians!! While on his Peruvian adventure, Matt also was awarded a grant from the Rattlesnake Conservancy to continue his rattlesnake research on FGCU’s campus when he returns! WAY TO GO MATT!
Here we will post updates that Matt is sending up whenever he is able to access the internet! Read below some of what he has send us from the Amazon and check out some of his photos featuring a variety of the critters he has encountered while in the jungle.
June 2nd, 2019
“If I haven’t chased you down in the past few months to tell you, I am currently in the Peruvian Amazon for 72 days assessing herpetofauna (amphibian and reptile) communities at the Santa Cruz Forest Reserve near Iquitos, Peru. This is a bucket-list type of adventure for me and I am loving every minute of it! The mosquitoes aren’t nearly as bad as they are in Florida (but I still hope these malarial pills are working), and despite the intense heat and humidity, it is a fantastically beautiful place. Thus far, we have sampled some phenomenal wildlife, including two of my most favorite snakes – the venomous Bushmaster (Lachesis muta) and the Yellow-tailed Cribo (Drymarchon corais; pictured) and a myriad of frog, toad, and lizard species! My personal goal is to hopefully find a caecilian, which is one of the oddest amphibians in the word – legless, worm-like, and their young will feed off the skin of the mother!! We are only about 2 weeks in, but I will update you when I can. Hasta luego!”
Go Exploring with Matt!
Want to get out into wild Southwest Florida with a real scientist? Join Matt for a guided kayak tour in the estuaries of Naples and Marco Island when he returns this August to hear amazing stories from his scientific adventures. Ask him questions about our area and his experience conducting real research in the Amazon Rain forest. To book a guided kayak tour with Matt or one of our other biologist guides, visit our website at www.RisingTideFL.com and give us a call or book your adventure online! Take advantage of the opportunity to explore with a real local biologist and get out on the water with the #1 kayak tour and kayak rental company in Naples & Marco Island!