Aside from the sheer vastness of the Amazon and the Rio Negro and the incredible vegetation, there were a few things I took away with me that I learned about while there. One is the fact that a lot of the vegetation is merely buried during the rainy season-in the very least,a lot of the trees were covered up to half of their height. The roots of tree can be extremely large-leading one to believe they are hanging on for dear life!
The trees are worse off in the rainy season, when many leaves die but relatively few new ones are produced. In the dry season they thrive; far more new leaves are produced than are shed, allowing the tree to benefit from the season’s increased sunlight. It appears that the trees anticipate the dry season, putting out leaves earlier, suggesting that they have evolved to take maximum advantage of the light.They have deep roots and are able to tap water deep in the soil.
I also loved seeing the pink dolphins.
The Amazon River dolphin averages about 6.5 feet in length. They come in all shades of pink, from a dull gray-pink, to rosy colored pink, to a bright pink like that of the flamingo. This color variation is due to the clarity of the water in which the dolphin lives; the darker the water, the pinker the dolphin will be. The sun’s rays cause the dolphins to lose their pink pigmentation. Murky water helps to protect the dolphin’s bright hue. These animals are also known to flush to a bright pink when excited. There are several anatomical differences between the Amazon River dolphin and other types of dolphins. For one, Amazon River dolphins are able to turn their necks from side to side while most species of dolphin cannot. This trait coupled with their ability to paddle forward with one flipper while paddling backward with the other helps them maneuver when the river floods. These dolphins will actually swim up over the flooded land and their flexibility helps them to navigate around trees. Additional characteristics that set these dolphins apart from other species are molar-like teeth that allow them to chew their prey and bristle-like hairs at the ends of their snouts that help them search for food on the muddy river bottoms.
I was also fascinated by the Brazilian rosewood.Brazilian rosewood is endemic to the coastal Brazilian Atlantic Forest, one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. Of the over 8,000 plants species that grow there, Brazilian rosewood is one of the largest. It can also be recognised by its dark branches that grow in zigzag patterns and by its feathery leaflets.
The tree is able to withstand a broad range of climatic conditions from tropical lowland forest to sub-montane forest. Nitrogen fixing bacteria and fungi in its roots allows the species to survive in nutrient deficient soils. Throughout a short period between November and December its flowers are pollinated by insects, mainly bees and it produces fruit from January until September.
Like all rosewoods, the species has a strong sweet smell reminiscent of the fragrance of roses. The high oil content of the wood also makes it desirable for use as an essential oil for fragrance cosmetics (Chanel no.5 for example) and for use in medicines.
Its timber is heavy and strong, making it highly resistant to insect attack and decay. It is therefore much sought after in local markets as a building material for use in flooring, structural beams and wall panelling/lining. Worldwide, its timber, being highly resonant, is also used to make musical instruments such as guitars.
excerpts from articles on Brazilian Rosewood,the Amazon, National Geographic on Pink Dolphins