Saving an Anhinga

It was late afternoon and we were at the mouth of the Dorado River. We went through a very narrow stream of shallow waters since it was low water season, and we got stuck! So Roque, our captain, had to jump into the water and push us out while we bounced from one side to the other to help get the boat out.

Finally we were free and started to cruise up river. The water was almost green with so much algae because in this season, there is less oxygen in the water. We met up with a large troop of squirrel monkeys, who were in turn accompanied by white capuchin monkeys mixed within. We were very concentrated on watching this loud group jumping from one tree to another.

Suddenly, on the other side of the river we saw an anhinga. It was a male, black with long straight bill, very long slender neck, and silvery patches on the upper wing. He was standing very still on a dead tree trunk protruding out of the water. Roque told our guide that there must be something in the water. First they thought it might be a caiman, so we approached to see, but as we got closer, the anhinga flew away.

Our guide Adonay looked down and saw that there was a bird under the water. The only thing that could be seen was a wing with the feathers all spread out.

Anhingas are similar to cormorants. Males are all black whereas the females have brownish heads, necks, and breasts. Their bills, however, are long and thin with sharp points. They have long tails and very long thin necks. They are great divers and pursue fish underwater using their large webbed feet for propulsion. Usually they are solitary and are known as snake birds because they often swim with their bodies submerged and only their long necks and heads above the water.

Adonay saw that it was having trouble. It was stuck underwater, trapped by a fishing net around its beak and foot. It was not easy to cut it loose. Luckily for all, our guides succeeded in freeing her and putting her back in the water to swim again in peace.