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Target Species: Luminous lizard, Proctoporus shrevei
Location: Trinidad
Director: Andrew Sheldon


Location: The country of Trinidad and Tobago is located off the Venezuelan coast.

Mission Statement:

In 1938 “Caribbean Adventure” by British naturalist Ivan Sanderson was published. In his book Sanderson tells how he caught a small lizard in a rocky crevice in the remote Aripo Caves. He writes that, as he drove the lizard out of the crevice , the white-spots down its flanks glowed “like the portholes on a liner”. The story of the Luminous lizard was born but quickly refuted by academic biologists who said it was impossible for a terrestrial vertebrate to emit light. Some set out to destroy Sanderson’s reputation as a competent observer of wildlife and his later interest in the Loch Ness Monster did not help his situation. Mark teams up with retired economic botanist and proud ‘Trini’, Victor Quinnel to investigate Sanderson’s claims, made all the more interesting by the fact that nobody has seen a live male ‘luminous lizard’ since he caught his specimen in the early 1930s. (Only adult males were reported to glow, females and juveniles being less colourful and lacking the red-belly and white spots.) Mark and Victor’s first port of call is pay a visit on Sanderson’s guide Capriata, now aged 87, who planted an orange pip on the journey. Capriata is too old to join them on the arduous trek so they are accompanied by local guide Caesar. Mark also seeks out other Trini herps and visits the Caroni Swamp to acquaint himself with the large treeboas that live there.
[Mark also meets Lakatan, whose name means ‘Banana’, a Rastafarian who spent 30 years naked with his family in the Trini jungle. Lakatan introduces Mark to the leatherback turtle beach where his family protect the nesting females and hatchlings heading for the ocean for the predators and poachers. This section did not make the final film.]


A close view of a male Trinidad luminous lizard (Proctoporus shrevei), note red venter and white 'port-hole' markings.

Species recorded during 'Exotic Island'

Species Common Name
BUFONIDAE TRUE TOADS
Bufo marinus Marine toad
DENDROBATIDAE DART-POISON FROGS
Mannophryne trinitatis Trinidad rocket frog
HYLIDAE TREEFROGS
Hyla crepitans Barking treefrog
Hyla microcephala misera Yellow treefrog
Phyllomedusa trinitatis Trinidad leaf frog
Scinax rubra Banana frog
LEPTODACTYLIDAE SOUTHERN FROGS
Leptodactylus fuscus Striped savanna bullfrog
Leptodactylus validus Trinidad bullfrog
Leptodactylus sp. B (Trinidad) (unidentified bullfrog)
Physalaemus pustulosus Tungara frog
PSEUDIDAE PARADOXICAL FROGS
Pseudis paradoxus caribensis Caribbean paradoxical frog
DERMOCHELYIDAE LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLE
Dermochelys coriacea Leatherback sea turtle
ALLIGATORIDAE ALLIGATORS & CAIMAN
Caiman crocodilus crocodilus Spectacled camian
GEKKONIDAE GECKOES
Gonatodes ceciliae Variegated gecko
Gonatodes vittatus vittatus White-banded gecko
IGUANIDAE IGUANAS
Iguana iguana iguana South American green iguana
POLYCROTIDAE ANOLES
Anolis aeneus Garden anole
Polychrus marmoratus Marbled bush anole
TEIIDAE MACROTEIIDS
Ameiva ameiva ameiva Common ameiva
Proctoporus shrevei Luminous lizard
Tupinambis teguxin Black & white tegu
BOIDAE BOAS
Corallus ruschenbergii Ruschenberg's treeboa
VIPERIDAE VIPERS & PITVIPERS
Bothrops asper Terciopelo

 


Location: Aripo caves are in the northern mountains, the Caroni Swamp is south of Port of Spain.

 


Mark O'Shea and 'Trini' botanist Victor Quinnel refer to a copy of Ivan Sanderson's 1938 "Caribbean Adventure".

 

 


Local guide Caesar excitedly hands O'Shea a cloth bag, containing ………

 


O'Shea captured this highly venomous Terciopelo (Bothrops asper) on the trail to Aripo caves.

 

 


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