• The "Trib", Interviews, and Raft 2.0 of Stint Four

  • Admin03/18/2013
  • Hi Reader,

    Welcome to my fourth post about my accomplishments in the Tres Brazos valley with my Kalu Yala team during our fourth stint (from Mar 5, 2013 until Mar 15, 2013). In this article, I shall discuss how I designed and built my second raft. Also, I shall mention highlights about the interview my biology team had with Dr. Cole of the Florida State University (FSU), and with Mr. Osvaldo of Cathalac Company. Lastly, I shall mention other achievements made by my fellow coworkers, including the biology team’s completion of the water system in the tributary (commonly called the “trib” by our director), and my new project ideas I would like to explore in the remaining two stints.

    The greatest highlight of this stint is undoubtedly the completion of a basic water system that supplies water from the nearest tributary stream, nearly a mile away, to our base. Our valley divisions have waited a long time to receive running water, and our patience has been rewarded this past stint. At the end of our previous third stint, the pipes had been built to a point only a hundred feet away from our field station. That remaining distance was finally eliminated with the final shipment of forty more PVC tubes (ranging from about .5” to 1.5” in diameter), a water tank, and valves. Simply with this shipment, our biology team had the necessary means to complete the system with all our deliberate speed and thoroughness. The end product has now been a steady supply of freshwater to our base from our watershed, simply with a turn of our faucet.

    Completed Water System
    Here is an image of our biology team having a victory pose with the completed water tank.

    Besides the water system, much progress has also been made in making a superior raft. My newly designed second raft made sure to emphasize a significantly larger number of pontoons to support the raft’s buoyancy. Each pontoon was also longer at 8′ long. Fifteen pontoons were lined together, such that these bamboos covered a square area of 8′ by 8′. Although the shipment of paracord never made it to the valley during this stint, the final job of tying the bamboo shafts together shall be done with great expectations at the start of the next fifth stint. In addition to tying the pontoons, there will be four supporting beams arranged widthwise to provide further stability in the final raft outcome.

    Second Raft
    Here is an image of my second raft. All that remains to be done is to tie the parts together.

    To fulfill the goals of the biology team, my team and I had an “off-stint” formal interview on Mar 4, 2013, with Dr. Cole of FSU and Mr. Osvaldo of Cathalac, both of whom are leading specialists in the sciences of sustainability, GIS, and hydrology here in Panama. Both gave us detailed instruction on how to make better use of our GPS unit, the Garmin eTrex 30, to develop our water system. Furthermore, our team made progress in requesting their assistance to improve our cause. Specifically, to make use of their GIS lab was one of our goals in order to analyze the precise altitudes of our Tres Brazos field station and the ecosystem around it. Dr. Cole spoke to us confident words that he could allow us to access the needed resources of the FSU lab here in Panama to accomplish our scientific agenda. As our Tres Brazos base area has nearly no prior research documented about that ecosystem, Dr. Cole’s professorly interest would also be fulfilled to better understand the ecology of Panama through our collaborative research. Likewise, Mr. Osvaldo gave us similar support to extend his laboratorical resources, as well as pointers on how to maximize our use of the GPS unit, including the type of file we should use (.shape files rather than .jpeg files) and the radio frequency types to use (UTP-17). Overall, by knowing the altitudinal data of our jungle region, the more likely it will be for us to maximize the use of water in the area (via a dam project or other related technologies) for the profit of our Kalu Yala company, and for the improvement of environmental sustainability in this Panamanian region.

    Here is an image of the Kalu Yala GPS tool, the Garmin eTrex 30.

    FSU Front Lawn
    Here is an image of our biology team having arrived at FSU to conquer its resources.

    Cathalac Door
    Here is an image of what the Cathalac company’s building front looks like.

    Finally, I would like to discuss with you about my new ideas I would like to investigate in order to make a worthwhile final project report for my Kalu Yala company on April 9, 2013. As a member of the biology team, I have been seeking ideas that were genuinely related to the biological sciences in some way. I have begun to see the possibility of crafting birdfeeders as a way to initiate ornithological studies in our base area, as well as to possibly improve pollination (especially with hummingbirds). Essentially, this bird project would first require me to memorize some of the known species of this Central American region by reading the book Birds of Panama by George Angehr. Although Panama (equal to the size of South Carolina) is only a fraction of the size of the entire U.S., there are so many more avian species in Panama (978 species to be exact) compared to the USA (where there are only 888 species). Due to the significantly greater concentration of diversity here in Panama, I would propose to investigate a specific bird type to narrow the overwhelming odds of producing a meaningful report on Panamanian birds indigenous to the Tres Brazos area. Specifically, I hope to learn more about the hummingbirds (family Trochilidae), as these birds possess unique qualities of interest. One hummingbird quality is their potential as a pollinator that improves agricultural yields, and another quality is their unique flight pattern, making it easier to know at least their family type when sighted in the field during analysis.

    In addition to my interest in an ornithological project, I have been interested in investigating the medicinal herbs of Tres Brazos. I have pondered how to even begin such an amorphous task as to find such herbs in the jungle here. I believe the answer begins either with more online research, or to begin by introducing known species of medicinal herbs on the farm and cultivating their ability to survive here in Panamanian soil. Hence, I have had a growing interest in being more closely allied with the agricultural team in order to be able to document floral growth patterns in this Central American region.

    I shall be hoping to find answers to these problems of how to research ornithology or botany in Panama during my upcoming fifth stint (from Mar 20 to Mar 28), as well as to build a more perfectly professional raft.
    Bibliographical Links

    Here is a link to the type of GPS unit our team has been using:


    Here is a link to the Birds of Panama book by George Angehr:


    Here is a link to the Trees of Panama and Costa Rica by Richard Condit, which may provide clues to medicinal herbs:


    Here is a link to the Cathalac company:


    Here is a link to the FSU GIS Lab:


    Here is an informative database of numbers of bird species in various countries, including the USA and Panama: