Aqvaterra TEAM

Salinas, Canelones, Uruguay
Phone: (598) 037 61276
E-mail: fcantera@adinet.com.uy

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  About us
Felipe Cantera
Felipe Cantera
* Driver, guide and collector during the expeditions.
* Responsible for the fish, snakes, lizards and turtles.
* Responsible for the breeding of mice, rats and rabbits.
* The one who always tries to increase the animal population in the house and according to many, the one that has the least to say and decide within AQVATERRA!
* Responsible for the decoration of the expos.
* Responsible for the snakes.
* The only person within AQVATERRA guilty of the fact that our visitors gain a lot of weight during their trips to Uruguay.
* The one who makes sure that the animal population doesn't increase in our house
* According to many, “the one who has the last word”!
Corina Cantera
Corina Cantera
* She's the one who helps with the feeding of the fish and picking earthworms for the turtles, she is responsible for choosing which rats, mice and rabbits should be kept as pets and which can be snake food (after many hours of discussion of course!).
* Because of her own cat, dog, horse and piranha, Corina doesn't have much time for more assignments within AQVATERRA.
Mateo Cantera
Mateo Cantera
* AQVATERRA's newest employee!
Matilda Cantera
Matilda Cantera
* Lives in Sweden, but comes to Uruguay once a year.
* Because of her, the rabbit population increases substantially as she forbids their use as snake food during her stay.
* Thanks to Matilda's yearly visit, the AQVATERRA team gets a good excuse to take a few weeks vacation and go… that’s right! fish collecting, horseback riding and to the beach!
  Our activities, how they started

In 1996, when I still lived in Sweden, I happened to see some cichlids (*) at a friend’s house that reminded me very much of the fish I used to fish when I was young and living in Uruguay. I asked him if these weren’t from Uruguay and he answered; “no, these are from Brazil, as far as I know there are no cichlids in Uruguay”.

I then started to look everywhere for information about Uruguayan cichlid species but found very little. There was hardly any information and the little you could get was some very old magazines where they talked about some Brazilian species “that could exist in Uruguay” bla. bla. bla. bla. Somewhere I found information about Dr. Sven O. Kullander (**) and decided to give him a call. There wasn’t much more to look through and at that point I also started to wonder what kind of cichlids there were in our country.

It didn’t take long for Sven to make it clear to me that the little information I had found was the only information available. We had a long talk and finally I asked Sven if he was interested in going down to Uruguay for a research trip. He was very interested in cichlids, most of all the South American ones. He had already been to Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia etc, several times, so why not Uruguay? Sven laughed and gave me a (typical for him) very simple answer: “no one has ever invited me to go there” and continued: “we sent letters to Uruguay a few times but no one answered”.

No?, I said, then I’ll invite you!

He laughed again and told me that it wasn’t as simple as to just come here and catch fish… first a permit was needed to go around collecting, a permit was needed to export the collected material and, last but not least, it wouldn’t hurt to have a guide. Without giving much thought to what I said, I offered to take care of the whole thing and asked him to get back to me. I decided to go down to Uruguay and see what could be done… 18 hours on a plane doesn’t only give the opportunity to reflect on what you have gotten yourself in to, but also who you should contact to get all you need!

To make a very long story short:

After 8 weeks in Uruguay and after many, many phone calls to the Immigration of Agriculture, I finally got through to Dr. Herbert Nion (***), who turned out to be just as interested in Dr. Kullander's visit to Uruguay as I was!

Back to Sweden and right away a phone call to the Museum:

“Sven; all the permits are done and everything is ready to go”

Sven then quickly said; “perfect, let’s go down there”

We? I wondered… I know nothing about Uruguayan cichlids!

So? He asked… neither do I!

In 1997 we went down there and that trip gave me the “excuse” I’d been looking for for a long time to finally move back home. The same year I moved back and ever since I have travelled thousands of miles in the search for new collecting places and species.
10 years later, 2007, the list of Uruguayan cichlids has at least tripled.

(*) The cichlid species at my friend’s house turned out to be an Australoheros facetus, not from Brazil but from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

(**) Senior Curator of Ichtyology, Swedish Museum of Natural History (a lot of knowledge and very few words)

(***) Dr. Herbert Nion ( one of Uruguay’s most skilled aquarists!!, )


Reptile expo (2000)

I’ve been very lucky to be born and raised in a country where there are plenty of snakes!

Every long weekend and vacation I went to the country where I had the opportunity to develop my biggest interests: horseback riding, fish collecting and snake hunting…

In 1977 we had to move to Sweden, not a snake rich country, but on the other hand a country with a broad range of exotic captive-born snakes and quite a few very skilled breeders.

That was when I finally found literature about these amazing animals and could develop my interest. 20 years later, 1997, I decided to move back to Uruguay to try to work with my biggest interest, but in a more “natural” way than in cold, dark and well-developed Sweden. Of course all my snakes went with me… around 100 specimens of different species, from smaller grass snakes to big Piton molurus.

Then, I didn’t have any thoughts on breeding snakes for another purpose than my own interest… but one day I got a visit from an acquaintance who had a sport fishing shop and had the idea for me to “bring some snakes” as bait for an expo where he was going to display his goods.

After a while I agreed to “help”. His idea became such a success that his booth became the most visited in all of the expo and we were invited to continue the display of snakes in other expos!

Today, 9 years later, we have done more than 35 expos, we have had exhibits both in small cities with only 3000 inhabitants in the north of Uruguay and big exhibits in Montevideo with 350.000 visitors.

We not only think, but know, that thanks to these reptile expos we have done what no one has ever done before in this country: come close to the Uruguayan population and given them the possibility to get to know these animals in a different way, making many people realize how harmless most of our snake species really are.

It’s really gratifying to hear when people come up to us and tell us that their view on snakes is different thanks to the snake exhibits!

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