Into the Bat Caves of Kenya: Pt. 2


[car rumbling and acoustic guitar] [loud bat chatter] – (Graslie) There are so many bats in here. This cave is just teeming. [ambient conversation] – (Graslie) You don’t want to touch anything in here because everything is just covered in a layer of guano. It’s hot. Everybody’s sweating. And there are insects that are attracted to the light that come and get in your mouth. You don’t really know whether to breathe out of your mouth or your nose. I should have brought a face mask. They’re amazing. How many do you think are in this cave? – (Bruce) I haven’t gotten a good sense of that, but thousands for sure. And it has such a beautiful design on the back. Most bats are sort of monochrome because color doesn’t mean much in the night, but these are very highly social, as you can see. I think you probably want to have the light on this. – (Graslie) Alright, I think I got one on my leg. – (Greg) Hey, something’s on me. – (Graslie) Oh god. Look at them go. – (Greg) They’re coming right at me. [laughter] – (Graslie) Yeah, I definitely had one going up my leg. – (Graslie) Are you filming that? – (Greg) Oh my god, they’re on my face! [laughter] – (Greg) That’s awesome. That’s amazing. – (Graslie) It’s not a field expedition until your cameraman gets covered in bats. – (Greg) I’m staying with the shot! – (Bruce) Alright! We’ve done what we can here. [heavy breathing] – (Graslie) That was fun. – (Bruce) Oh?
– (Graslie) Yeah. – (Bruce) We need to finish this by flying the Otomops. – (Paul) Yeah.
– (Bruce) They can just fly straight back to bed. You can get your calls. – (Graslie) You’re gonna release them? – (Paul) Yeah, yeah. – (Graslie) You just follow it? [bat chattering] – (Paul) Oh, it’s turning back, it’s turning back! – (Graslie) Nope. – (Bruce) Check out the lips on this. The hair on the inside of the lips.
– (Graslie) Woah, yeah. They’re beautiful.
– (Bruce) They are. – Ready?
– (Paul) Yeah. – (Bruce) Here we go. [bat chatters] [bat chatters] – (Paul) Yeah! [bat chatters] [running] [laughter] [slow bat chirp] – (Bruce) Ready?
– (Paul) Yes. [chirping stops] – (Graslie) Oh, look at him run. All that fussing for nothing. – (Bruce) “Let me go, let me go, let me go.” – (Graslie) “Let me go, let me go.” Now he’s just gonna hang there. [breathing and grass crunching] – (Bruce) Am I above the entrance? [Paul on radio] – (Bruce) We have some rock overhangs here that are used by big four-footed creatures as an overnight or diurnal hiding place. But the bats are in another tunnel just around the corner, here. Smell the guano?
– (Graslie) Yeah. – (Bruce) It’s the smell of prosperity for this project. [laughter] – (Ward) Is this the entrance right here?
– (Bruce) Right. – (Graslie) Oh, down here?
– (Bruce) Yep. – (Graslie) Oh, wow. That is pretty narrow. – (Greg) Okay, cool. So I’m going to follow you in.
– (Bruce) Yep. – (Greg) Alright, and we’ll see you all after. – (Graslie) Alright, good luck! [bats chattering] – (Bruce) Nycteris! We were telling you about the slit-faced bats. What a beauty! Look at the size of those ears. What a cool bat. Okay, these guys have gotten wise to us and have moved into the deepest part of the cave where we can’t go. So I think our work here is done. – (Greg) [grunting] Thank you. – (Paul) Don’t be caught, please, in the net. – (Graslie) How is it? – (Greg) [laughs] Great. – (Graslie) Oh, man. – (Paul) There’s no air inside there. – (Graslie) Oh, you smell great. – (Greg) Am I caught on something? – (Graslie) Mm, yeah. – (Greg) My god. – (Greg) Yeah, we had a really successful session, shooting in a pretty confined space. At one point I marched forward on my knees to get a close-up of—what bat was it, Bruce? – (Bruce) It was Nycteris, a slit-faced bat. – (Greg) Slit-faced bat. So excited by the prospect of getting a close-up, I kicked up just this cloud of guano and urine and dust. It kind of overtook both of us. [laughter] And uh, yeah, we took some down. – (Ward) Is that what’s going on on your…
– (Greg) Through the nose, in the mouth, yeah. – (Graslie) In your teeth?
– (Ward) hands and sleeves there? – (Greg) Yeah, I think that’s what’s happening, right there. [acoustic guitar]

70 thoughts on “Into the Bat Caves of Kenya: Pt. 2

  1. Emily is just so cool. She completely blows the stereotype about girls/women not being into science or nature or being grossed out by "icky" stuff. Lots of women do this stuff,, but she's not a scientist, she's just so geeked out by knowledge and new experiences that she just dives right in. Props.

  2. Such cuties! Also I'm guessing that this place is a national park so no one is profiting from the guano, right?

  3. Ok ya'll need to research and use a netty pot. Even if it's been awhile since the trip still a good idea to use one. They clean out your sinuses. Bats are very cool. I see them eating the bugs flying around the light on the power line post in front of my house. I should build some bat houses so they will stay and eat all the mosquito's.

  4. I'm not too big a fan of the recent videos here on The Brainscoop, especially these from Kenya. I feel like you've neglected the educational side of things.
    I would have loved some interviews with the people on the project on what the purpose of the project was? What were they hoping to achieve? What kind of data were they collecting and what could be read from them? And so on.
    What I've seen is just a compilation of footage with no context and what I've gotten out of it is that guano is kind of smelly and batcaves in Kenya are hot…:-/

  5. I'm not too big a fan of the recent videos here on The Brainscoop, especially these from Kenya. I feel like you've neglected the educational side of things.
    I would have loved some interviews with the people on the project on what the purpose of the project was? What were they hoping to achieve? What kind of data were they collecting and what could be read from them? And so on.
    What I've seen is just a compilation of footage with no context and what I've gotten out of it is that guano is kind of smelly and batcaves in Kenya are hot…:-/

  6. Knowing Emily from all the Brain Scoop videos, when someone comes out of a cave smelling of bat guano and she says to him "You smell great" she's not being sarcastic. It's the smell of the real world and that means adventure, so it was a sincere complement. 
    This series is fantastic. The camera work is exceptional and the experts are enthusiastic. But why no-one is wearing breathing protection in those caves is beyond me.

  7. For such an interesting topic I was shocked at how lacking it was information wise, kinda disappointing, it might as well have been muted footage. 

  8. Exciting bat news on Halloween when San Antonio, The Nature Conservancy, and Bat Conservation International bought up 1,500+ acres near the Bracken Bat Cave, home to the largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in the world. It was purchased for $20.5 million, stopping plans for a 3,500-home subdivision.

  9. It's crazy to think that you used to just be volunteering at your university and one video with Hank about the collection turned into all of this. 

  10. Did you release all the bats you caught? Or were some killed? About how many were killed as a result of the study? Also, do bats only make one type of sound for echolocation? Do they have different types of sounds for distress, comfort, etc.?

  11. I know Emily is a very clever person but how can you wish you had a face mask, while you are wearing a bandana tied around your neck?

  12. I like these videos. I feel like a lot of people want more information and I understand them but these videos are nice too. I'd rather have a few videos like this and then a summary and information in a later video. Or at least videos like this one every once in a while.

  13. Was this trip about collecting specimens, or data (like measurements, sound files, species counts) or both?  I'd love it if toward the end of this particular series, you can give us a run down of what types of information you and the whole team collected.

  14. In the early part of the video as the bats were being released from the white capture net (I'm sure it has an official name that I'm not aware of) my deviant mind thought it would be great if Emily said gleefully: "Fly my minions, fly!"

  15. I just picture you siting in one of your art classes day dreaming of walking through guano in Kenya…  Emily, you're awesome, look forward to the next adventure.

  16. How do you go from volunteering at a tiny museum in a backwater town in Montana to exploring caves in Kenya in only 2 years or so? I would like a complete step-by-step guide, please. 

  17. You guys are using the AnaBat system!!! I had to self teach myself how to use that to survey the bats in our city 🙂 Neat stuff.

  18. It is great that the Field helps collect this information.  Bats are amazing.  I can't imagine walking through all that guano.

  19. Love these bat videos. So cool to see these snippets of that expedition. Makes me even more excited for the upcoming Peru videos. 😀
    As a side note, those bats are beautiful.

  20. I have a fruit bat that lives in my fig tree and every time I hear it fly overhead it literally sounds like 4:16

  21. It's corny, but I get tears in my eyes thinking about what a journey you are privileged to experience, Emily.  I'm happy for you.

  22. While this is totally rad, I really wish the team had taken more time to explain what they were doing. I feel so lost, usually Emily explains everything to us.

  23. Another good episode.
    I hope it conveys to people a little of the beauty and charm of bats. Bats are among the most misunderstood animals.

  24. You should consider adding captions to videos like this, the bats flying makes it hard to hear what you're saying sometimes.

  25. What were the directional microphones/equipment used for – when ya'll were staging and saying "ready?" before releasing the bats?

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