Season’s Greetings!

A Cave nectar bat (Eonycteris spelaea) pollinating a wild banana flower in Thailand, September 2012.

Over the past year, we collaborated with German colleague, Ralph Simon, taking more than 20,000 photos of bats pollinating highly bat-dependent flowers in Costa Rica, Cuba and Ecuador for an article scheduled to appear in the May 2014 issue of National Geographic, then collaborated with Daniel Hargreaves and much appreciated Thai colleagues to photograph 32 species of bats in Thailand, including rare painted, bumblebee and naked bats.

We have lots of continuing plans for 2013, including field work in Mexico, Costa Rica and Sulawesi to better document bat values, assist colleagues and local conservation projects and prepare for a coffee table book on bats of the world, a long-time dream of Merlin’s.

Over the past year, we gradually noticed Merlin beginning to lean to the left and struggle unusually to maintain his balance while climbing around in caves and other rugged terrain. Finally, two weeks ago, I convinced him to see a neurologist, and an MRI scan of his brain revealed a meningioma about the size of a golf ball. Fortunately, the tumor is benign, well defined and in an ideal location for successful surgical removal. A highly respected neurosurgeon, Dr. Craig Kemper, will remove it on January 10. We anticipate Merlin being in the hospital for two to three days, but requiring about three weeks at home to get back to full speed.

Thank you so much for following this blog the past year. As long as you’re interested, I’ll continue blogging about our projects. Merlin and I wish the very best for you and for bats in the coming New Year!