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Alexa the Explorer

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					Alexa the Explorer
By Alexa Warwick On today’s episode of “Alexa the Explorer” we venture into the wild ecosystems of BRAZIL! Bem vindo! Welcome to Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world. Brazil is the size of the lower 48 states of the USA, and is home to a wealth of biological wonders. Many may know Brazil for its famous rainforest, the Amazon, but today we will be going into the less explored regions of Brazil, looking for adventures! (1) Let’s start in the quiet center of the country in the state of Goias, near the capital city of Brasilia. In the midst of an agriculturally exploited region of cerrado savanna, a waterfall oasis awaits discovery after a long trek. (2) And while we’re here, why don’t we try waterfall rappelling! It’s an exhilarating way to get back down the hill, as well as a great view from the top. A few states to the south, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, host another watery marvel, (3) the Pantanal, the largest wetland in the world. During the rainy season most of this area approximately the size of France fills with water and animals are easily spotted on tiny islands of land. Right now it’s the transition period, with most of the aquatic animals trapped in smaller pools and rivers. (4) Now’s also my chance to try some fishing—but watch out for those caimans, smaller relatives of the alligator! (5) And don’t forget the teeth on those piranhas if you do catch any! But let’s move further south now to a more energetic waterfall, the falls of Iguazu. Splendid views can be had on both sides of the Parana River, which follows the border between Brazil and Argentina. (6) For the best views, though, let’s take a boat ride right into the falls! See that little orange boat? Yep, we’ll be headed straight into one of the waterfalls! Whew! How about a relaxing float down a quieter river now? The city of Bonito is home to a wide variety of aquatic adventures, one of which is snorkeling! (7) The rivers around Bonito have high levels of calcium carbonate, making the water crystal clear and easy for viewing everything from tiny minnows to huge dourado fish, named for their golden color. (8) Another colorful animal that can be spotted overhead in the trees are the many species of toucans that come in a myriad of designs. (9) But now let’s head further beneath the surface of the water and learn to scuba dive at the scuba diving capital of Brazil, Arraial do Cabo. This coastal city is located just a few hours up the coast from the famous Rio de Janeiro. During my first day of lessons I got to hold a real conch shell, work on some cool hairdos, and see many puffer fish. While puffer fish are poisonous, they can only harm us if we eat them, so just swimming along is okay! (10) Back on land again, much further up the long eastern coast of Brazil we’ve come to a preserved area of both Atlantic rainforest and cerrado in the Guaribas Biological Reserve, just north of the city of Joao Pessoa. In order to study this area, biologists must first do an inventory of the animal species found there, such as this false coral snake I’m holding. Coral snakes are very poisonous, but this snake only mimics the coloring in order to gain extra protection from predators. Smart! (11) On the other hand, this little ribbon snake, which lives in trees, doesn’t seem to be hiding at all! But this type of field work doesn’t only happen during the day; these two snakes were both found in the dark! Back to our starting point, near Brasilia, let’s join two different groups of biology students, one that studies the Bufo toads and another that studies lizards in the. (12) Like the snakes, toads are usually found at night. This one looks like he should be telling ghost stories! (13) During the day, the lizards are caught in buckets in the ground, but we’ve found more than lizards here! First a little baby marsupial is caught in the trap. (14) Next, we almost trip over an armadillo in our path! However, my favorite kind of organisms to visit in Brazil are my human friends (15)—but they can act just as crazy as the animals sometimes! Obrigada! Thanks for visiting Brazil, its ecosystems, its animals, and its people with me today! Tchau!


				
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