Day 297, Year 5 Hooked on Lemurs
Date: Thursday, August 19, 2010
Weather: Sunny AM, Wind SE 20+; Overcast in PM, Wind NNE 5-10
Location: Moramba Bay, NW Madagascar

Big ones, tiny ones, middle-sized ones . . . no matter the size, we are definitely hooked on lemurs. This morning was just too windy to go out exploring, so I baked bread, but for the first time since we have been here, the wind died down just after noon and we actually got a gentle afternoon sea breeze from the northeast. This made going out in the dinghy much more fun and it allowed us to go further than we have before. We went past the beaches we have visited and finally found a small village. We have seen a few local canoes and wondered where they came from. Now we know. We then worked our way back stopping at the next beach back from the village for an explore. As we neared the shore, we saw some white spots in a tree on the beach. By the time we beached the dinghy, the lemurs started bounding down out of the tree. One bounded on to the beach and disappeared, and then the others leaped through the trees and out of sight. We didn’t see them again, but it is nice to know that they are there. Next time we’ll row in so as not to scare them with the sound of the dinghy motor. We explored this beach and found a talking baobab. This one had gashes on the trunk that looked like eyes and a mouth with arms (branches) and looked just like it was speaking to us. I saw more of the green pods that we have been seeing and realized today that they look a little like large milkweed pods. These were drying and splitting open, and inside there was the same kind of fluff you find attached to the seeds in milkweed. But when these pods dry, they flatten out and make quite a lovely decoration. On this same beach we also saw the big bird called a coucal and a slightly smaller blue bird with a very long tail called a crested coua. I pulled another of my “tromping through the vines to photograph a bird” trick and fell flat on my face. The vines here are everywhere and are just like little trip wires.

The next stop was on the beach where Mark and I saw the giant butterfly a couple of days ago. We call this one Baobab Beach because it also has a lovely assortment of baobabs. I no sooner started walking up the beach when a much smaller swallowtail than we saw before came flying directly at me and looked like it was going to land on my finger. I was ahead of Ed and Lynne and tried to call to them to look, but they only saw the butterfly flying away. We walked down what looked like a bit of a sand path. Mark and Ed walked ahead with Lynne and I behind them. I saw a spot of white in a tree so Lynne and I walked that way and found three little lemurs. We’ll call them juveniles but we have no idea if they are two months old or a year old. We just know that they are not nearly as big as the adults. These three little guys put on a show that delighted us. They do more climbing than the adults we have seen, but they can still leap a fair distance from tree to tree.

Our last stop was at what we are now calling Momma Lemur Beach. We just had to see if we could get another glimpse of those babies. We saw leaves swaying and knew the lemurs were jumping. Mark headed up the hill but Ed, Lynne, and I stayed on the low ground. We could see the lemurs from a distance, but it was hard to get photos through the trees. I found a mother with a baby and kept my eye on her. Eventually I heard Mark call down that he didn’t have his camera. It was in the backpack on my back. So I went to the path that goes up the hill and then cut across to him. He had been sitting in the same spot for at least twenty minutes with an unbelievably close view of the mother with the oldest baby. By the time I reached him, she bounded away and the mother with the tiny baby was still in her perch and not moving. As we watched we realized that this mother looks young and her baby can’t be very old. There’s nothing fluffy white about it yet. It is still in the grayish-white stage. We just can’t believe how many lemurs we are getting to watch and getting to see the babies is such a treat.

We were able to fly back to the boats as the wind had virtually died in the part of the bay we were exploring. When we got back to where we could see the boats, we realized that we had a gentle sea breeze blowing in from the west. That is the first we have in days. The southeasterly winds have just been so strong that we have not been getting the normal land breeze-sea breeze winds each day. We listened to the weather this evening and it looks as if we will have light breezes for the next couple of days. If so, tomorrow we will do some exploring across the bay to on the south shore. That has just not been possible with the strong winds. We will then decide whether to head north and motor if there are light winds or stay here a few more days. We would love to get back north to Nosy Saba when the winds are light so we could enjoy the snorkeling there, so we’ll have to weigh that against the cost of motoring.

100819 Day 297 Moramba Bay, Madagascar–Explore #5