Weekly, I take my googleship to outerspace and fix my googlescope down on Altumland, then I start making a few calls and sending some e-mails. Google Earth is a very valuable tool when you're interested in observing major landscape alterations, the "relative" color of body of water, the development of urban areas, etc.
The growing interest of the U.S. in the whats and whereabouts concerning the Venezuelan regime is allowing satellite images of much higher resolution in several strategic parts of the country. For some reason (da!), the Puerto Ayacucho area can now be observed with what I call a "class 2" resolution. If you want to know what class 1 is, go see Baghdad or Havanna. I just invented this "class" thing for the purpose of explaining higher quality resolution.
I even took a zoom in on the hospital my son was born in and took it to him... my wife and I were discussing some new improvements made to the hospital (we lived on hospital premises - the Medical Residence - for 3 years). We strolled around and out of town and observed the many changes made in the last decade.
What has worried me most is to notice what seems to be very large areas that have been deforested and that use to be rain forest or savannah. Now we can see what seem to be more barren sandlands.
Problem is that precisely where these barren sandlands are now located is precisely where the most convenient and accessible altum collection used to be done.
I've attached two images, one showing the land just to the Northeast of Puerto Ayacucho (Agua Linda, ParhueÃ±a, Pozo Azul microbasins) and the other showing the land South on the Venezuelan side and Southeast, across the Orinoco into Colombia.
In this entire area, Pterophyllum altum was very abundant and pretty much accesible to any collector. Now I've been told that the deforestation has affected the availability of many of the species at traditional collection spots and that the the fish populations seem to be "relocating" towards the non deforested areas up or downstream on the creeks which they inhabit. These areas are more remote from the main road. Rural penentration routes can still be followed into these places but it's not as easy as it was before.
What we see as barren land to the Northeast is now farmland and land dedicated to the expansion of Puerto Ayacucho as well as for Aluminum mining. Small villages are being built for workers in a rather dispersed manner, but surely for some objective.
I interpret what I am seeing as cause for significant changes in the water temperature and the light conditions in several hundreds of kilometers of aquatic habitat. No canopy or shade to cool the exposed sections of the streams. If so, we could be dealing with lower dissolved oxygen levels in these waters. Could this be the reason or one of them, that altum are becoming so much harder to handle and ship than some years back?
I'll be trying to gather more data on what is happening and let you know.
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God listens. He may not always give you everything you want, when you want it; but he always gives you what you really need, when you need it most!