I am writing from a rock above the Salto Pará, which the Ye'kwana euphemistically refer to as a "rapid".
But is really a kilometer wide semi-circle of waterfalls separating the upper and lower Caura region.
A perpetual mist rises from the falls, and AquaRAP scientists expect that the aquatic life will be very different above and below the falls.
"Catfish, a new species of catfish," shrieks Franco as he drags a seine net across the rocks, soaking everyone else in the process. This is a species that he had discovered near the falls on an earlier trip and had expected to find farther up on the river, but this is the first sighting so far.
PEOPLE: Meet Jensen Montambault, our journalist in the field.
TOOLS: Accurate identification and careful notes make for good science.
SPECIES: Nature's water filtering system.
"Long before God and Jesus," Juan tells me, "the daughter of a Ye'kwana god lived here, and this place is sacred to us." The government-run power company however, having just now abandoned the project to divert the Caura to the Caroní, wants to install a hydroelectric plant at the falls. In our time, we have destroyed many natural paradises in the U.S. under the name of progress, but it is painful to know this in retrospect and feel impotent to protect the soul of one of the oldest lands on earth.
|Franco holds a Chaetostoma vasquez catfish. Photo Credit: Jensen Montambault|
— Reported by Jensen Montambault
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