Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Indonesian Bats & Flying Foxes in Madagascar

Recently I was thinking about all the bats I have seen around the world.  I checked my blog and was surprised to see I only had one photo of bats on it!  So I decided I'd look through and try to add some more.  Last year in Indonesia, near Pangkalan Bun, we toured a really interesting cave, which was home to a giant spider...and also some bats and crickets.  I managed to get a few photos of a couple of the bats.


One of the coolest bat sightings I've ever had was in Madagascar, off the Masoala Peninsula, between the island of Nosy Mangabe and Maroansetra.  There I saw the most impressive bats I've ever seen, with five foot wing spans.  They were called "flying foxes" and there was a circular island (uninhabited) we passed where a swirl of bats flew overhead.  I remember seeing the bats from the boat, at a bit of a distance, and marveling at how cool they were.  I see it so clearly in my mind, I was sure I had photos.  When I went back through my Madagascar pictures though, there were none...and I realized why. 

That particular boat trip was VERY rough.  I had been camping on Nosy Mangabe, hoping to see the Aye Aye, for a few days.  There was no radio or other communication on the island and the boat to pick me up was over five hours late.  When it came, the boat operator explained that the seas had been too rough to come earlier.  Only myself and one older British gentleman were on the boat, and as we proceeded to Maroansetra I quickly understood that the sea was in fact STILL quite rough.  We got blasted with wave after wave, all our luggage was soaked, and we were slammed up and down as we sat huddled against the part of the boat where the steering wheel was located.  I have two great memories of that voyage:  seeing super cool, huge bats, and the impact of a big wave.  The big wave was significant because the other passenger and I hadn't spoken, me being an introvert and him being British, we exchanged names and nothing more.  When the big wave hit, I happened to glance sideways and see the saltwater impact his face, course over his gray hair, and knock his glasses off, and as it receded he said, ever so calmly, "I say! It's a bit rough, eh?" which I found, at the time, hilarious.  Nicely understated, and ever so funny.  It was the only dialog of the voyage.

Having thought back on the trip I know why I didn't photograph the bats: no way I had my camera out in that deluge of waves.  It was sealed up in a ziploc bag.  Thus, no super cool flying fox photos after all. 

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