Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Holy bat cave!

The Sea of Cortez contains a whole world of marine life. Jacques Cousteau has called it the world's aquarium. I intend to have a closer look, but for now I am preoccupied with animal life on the Baja, in particular, bats. There is a high density of them in Nopolo and people staying in the Loreto Bay village will have to learn to live with them. As creepy as they are they're indispensable as pest control--each consuming over 1000 mosquitoes every evening. I don't know about you, but if I have to choose between furry flying mice and biting insects, the bats win every time.

I assumed they lived in the caves in the mountains near Nopolo, but someone yesterday told me that they are roosting in the abandoned Convention Center just down the road from the village. This I had to see. Beau too. We were too chicken to approach the site at sundown, however. We had visions of walking into some dark orifice at the same time the hungry flock would be pouring out for night feeding. We didn't want any bats in our hair.

We thought we'd explore the building at day. We found a spiral staircase to the second floor that led to a dark room. I peered in and saw (and heard) hundreds of bats gripping the ceiling which was covered in styrofoam. There weren't the thousands I imagined, but I wondered if more were behind the styrofoam in the trusses. I think Beau was expecting thousands too because he hung back at the doorway while I cautiously creeped in further, stepping on piles of bat dung which looks surprisingly like mouse poop. I positioned myself for a few snapshots hoping my camera flash wouldn't startle the bats into a frenzy. They seemed not to notice me, but I wasn't too comfortable standing directly below them and the stench was nasty.

The building is planned for demolition and I wonder if anyone realizes how this will effect the bat population. Where will they go? Maybe to roost in crannies around the stylish village? I'm not a bat lover any more than a vulture or turtle lover, but like I said, the bats serve a very good purpose. I need to find out if anyone in the development is considering the imminent displacement of these creatures.

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