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  • Writer's pictureLuis A Mazariegos

June 2024 — NEBLINA H2O: Celebrating 15 Years Of Species Discovery @ MPNR

In 2005, I embarked on a journey to meet the late Gustavo Suarez in the town of Jardin, aiming to photograph the Glittering Starfrontlet (Coeligena orina) a hummingbird he had rediscovered. My goal was accomplished a few months later with Gustavo’s assistance. 

Glittering Starfrontlet (Coeligena orina).

My passion for photographing hummingbirds began at age 12 inspired by a 1966 National Geographic issue and came full circle when my photos were featured by the magazine in 2007. The funds generated by this assignment enabled the creation of the Mesenia-Paramillo nature reserve (MPNR) near Jardín to safeguard the critically endangered Glittering Starfrontlet. Today, the reserve spans 3500 hectares (7700 acres) and is a haven for 20% of Colombia’s known bird species, boasting 408 registered to date.

Driven by the richness of the Andes’ biodiversity found, I expanded my focus to amphibians, reptiles, mammals, invertebrates, and plants. During the past 15 years 100 species new to science have been confirmed and over 100 are awaiting confirmation. Quite some staggering numbers, yet these only represent a fraction of what remains to be discovered. My personal challenge is to register and describe these new species advocating for the protection and conservation of these ecosystems.

Andinobates cassidyhornae, the first vertebrate species described from the MPNR in 2013.

The Andes, surpassing the biodiversity of the Amazon per unit area, owes much to cloud forests providing the environmental conditions for this species richness. Also, cloud forests play a crucial role in the condensation and capture of moisture. In the lush canopy of a cloud forest, mosses and epiphytes play a vital role in capturing water droplets from the mist-laden air. With their unique adaptations, such as specialized structures and surface textures, they act as efficient collectors of moisture. Mosses possess delicate, branching structures that create a large surface area for water retention, while epiphytes utilize intricate root systems to absorb moisture directly from the air. As the mist envelops the forest, these plants intercept the tiny droplets, channeling them down to their roots or specialized structures where they can be absorbed and utilized, sustaining the vibrant ecosystem of the cloud forest and generating significant amounts of water that give rise to natural springs that feed numerous watersheds in the Andes. 

Mist engulfing the cloud forest at MPNR

From one of these natural springs in the Jardin-Tamesis ridge emerges NEBLINA H2O. Experts estimate a century-long journey through the layers of sediment and rock that naturally enrich the water with 60 minerals, nutrients and trace elements. Each drop contains adequate levels of sodium, magnesium, calcium and other important minerals in perfect balance. Beyond its unique composition, the water’s neutral pH of 7, imbued with the peaceful and calming frequencies of the cloud forest, contributes to one’s health and well being. 

We invite you to savor NEBLINA H2O–not only a refreshing experience but also a contribution to the long-term conservation and scientific research at the Mesenia-Paramillo nature reserve. Cheers!

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