Possums Gone Wild

Playa Viva’s wildlife got a taste of fame recently, thanks to a visit from noted biologist and Stanford educator, Paul Ehrlich. During his stay, Ehrlich and his team set up four “camera traps”  to get a candid glimpse of some of the local fauna, with surprising results. A digital camera rigged to a motion sensor, a camera trap can (with the addition of some well-placed bait) capture the nighttime rovings of otherwise elusive creatures. Much like the paparazzi with their telephoto lenses, these camera traps capture their subjects unbeknownst, before splashing their images across the tabloids (or just on a blog or two).

Didelphis marsupialis (aka a Virginia possum) caught on film at Playa Viva

Ehrlich and his helpers rolled their cameras for three nights, and after some adjustments were able to capture images and video of some of Playa Viva’s furry and feathered neighbours. Among them were a possum, a black vulture, a raccoon and a coati (or tejon) which is something like the raccoon’s Mexican cousin.


A black vulture (Coragyps atratus) poses for its closeup

Among Ehrlich’s most startling finds, however, was a white-tailed deer. Common in many parts of North America, these majestic quadrupeds once roamed all over the region, but due to hunting their numbers in Mexico have dwindled to near extinction. As such, Ehrlich was pleasantly surprised to “catch” one in his trap.


You can find a more detailed account of Ehrlich’s observations here, but you should probably just head down to Playa Viva and see for yourself.

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