The word “biodiversity” is a recent addition to our language having first appeared in the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 1985. The word takes on a special meaning when referring to the Costa Ballena, because this is one of the few places in the world where the biodiversity is actually increasing. It is a privilege to live here and watch it happen. Biodiversity is never as evident as when a phalanx of army ants fans out and advances through the forest consuming every bit of animal protein it encounters. Multitudes of insects, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals flee for their lives. Predators lurk on the outskirts of the deadly mass hoping to grab a spiny rat or a lizard in its panicked flight. Multiple species of birds, each with its own specialty and each at a different level of forest eat every tiny creature that vacates its nook or crevice and runs for its life. Bats fly from hollows in fear of the painful stings of the miniscule carnivores. The rainforest never appears so alive and full of movement as when the army ants are on the hunt. The hunted hurry through leaf litter, over sticks and rotting wood, around masses of fungus, skirting puddles of water full of tadpoles, up trunk and branches, following vines and lianas, putting as much distance as possible between themselves and their pursuers. But eventually the army passes and the forest returns to a relative state of calmness.
In reality the rainforest is never calm. That is merely our perception of it. We are only aware of a small part of everything that is actually happening. Living creatures are busy below the earth’s surface, in the center of hollow trees, high in the canopy, under the leaf litter, and in all of a multitude of hideaways beyond the reach of our senses. And what are all of these creatures doing? They are looking for food. Life is one constant pursuit of sustenance and sooner or later every living being on this planet will be eaten by other living beings and assimilated back into the biosphere. Life goes on.
By Jack Ewing