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3 posts from October 2016


After our two hikes through the wonderful forest of the Monteverde Protected Area it was time to get on the bus and visit other wonderful places on the Caribbean site. La Selva Biological Station and Tirimbina are a couple of research stations located in the town of Sarapiquí in the Caribbean lowlands; here we got to see many species of plant and animals increasing our appreciation and knowledge of the Costa Rican wildlife.


Female Blue Jeans Frog (Oophaga pumilio) carrying its tadpole to a water body.  This species lays eggs on the leaf-litter and when they hatch the female carry them to a small pond with water (usually a bromeliad tank) where she comes back constantly to lay unfertilized eggs that will be the food for the tadpoles.


After visiting this biological stations we moved to Tortuguero with the main purpose of seeing the green turtles which nesting season is on its peak at this time of the year.  We woke up at 4 am in the morning and start hiking on the beach still in darkness looking for turtles nesting on the beach; after a few minutes hiking we got a really heavy rain but that did not stop us, and it was worth it, cause minutes later we finally got to see the green turtle on the beach and also some turtle hatchlings coming out of their nests.


Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) on its way back to the ocean after the really intense labor of laying eggs on the beach.


Tortuguero is not only about turtles on the beach, it has also a series of canals surrounded by a great forest, this makes it a great place to explore in canoes during the afternoon looking for different species of flora and fauna.


Students in canoes exploring the Tortuguero Canals.



Jack Obergfell (Indiana University), Alex Bush (Southern Methodist University), Chris Dudley (University of Kentucky), and Alex Wiltse (Vassar College) with Johel Chaves enjoying their trip along the canals.


Part of the student's homework during the field trips is to gather information about a plant and animal assigned by the staff and to teach about it to the rest of the group when we encounter the different species. Thumb_IMG_2312_1024

Cheyne Springbett (University of Colorado - Boulder) teaching us about the Elephant beetle (Megasoma elephas)


The last stop of the field trip is at Bocas del Toro in Panama, during a few days here most of the activities are related to the marine diversity although we also learn about some beach and forest species found in this area, bats found in a bat cave and birds nesting in a small island off shore.


School of fish at the Coral Reefs in Bocas del Toro, Panama.



Dylan Rose (University of Colorado - Boulder) swimming with a Comb Jelly (Phylum Ctenophora).


It has been almost two and a half weeks of this amazing experience in the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica and Panama exploring different habitats and learning about all the different ecosystems found there; but now is time to get back to Monteverde and start another unique part of this program, the Independent Project.





Tropical Ecology & Conservation 2nd Field Trip (Caribbean Slope)

We started our second field trip on the Caribbean side of the country with the idea of visiting new ecosystems and learning about the biology and conservation of the organisms found in there.  The first part of the trip consisted in a 10 mile hike through the wonderful forest of the Monteverde protected area, we were so lucky to do this cause only student's groups are allow to do this hike and enjoy the beauty of this forest.



After a few hours of hiking we arrived to Eladio's Refuge, here we hiked and learn about different species of plant and animals found in the area, but also about how all the conservation started in the Peñas Blancas valley after most of the land was used for farming.


Students crossing a stream during a hike around Eladio's Station.



One of the species Sofia Moscovitz (Oberlin College) have been looking for during the entire trip is the Vine Snake (Oxibelys brevirostris), she really enjoyed the first encounter they had.



Mist netting for birds and bats was another of the activities done at Eladio's, Rebecca Hoffman (Northeastern University) and Emily Rockhill (Pomona College) get a close view of a Flycatcher.




Peñas Blancas is a great place to study many different interactions between organisms, so one morning we did a project with different species of palms and the rate of colonization by epiphylls (fungi, lichens, liverworts, moss or any other organism leaving on the leaves of other plants).  Here Jack Obergfell (Indiana University) measuring the epiphylls on a palm leaf.


After 4 nights at Eladio's it was time to do another hike, this time around 9 miles to get to the Pocosol station.  After these two hikes we have crossed the diameter of an area of around 25 000 hectares (1 hectare = 2.5 acres); this is the total area of the Monteverde protected land, the largest private reserve in Central America.


Pocosol Station


The Great 8 of Fall 2016

Here are some shout-outs to friends and friendships we've made so far in the Sustainability and the Environment Program.  We have a lot of accomplices in making fun: first and foremost, the Great 8 are Number 1!  Here they are, celebrating Costa Rican Independence Day on Isla Chira in the Gulf of Nicoya, with a little help from Adam and Paola.

Great 8 with faroles

Soccer and Sustainability: a match too good to be true. We love all of our soccer soul mates - young and old - from different parts of Costa Rica. They're our accomplices in mud, sweat, and tears (of joy).

Soccer soul mates
Soccer soul mates of Santa Elena
The great 8 and ceibo soccer soul mates
Soccer soul mates from Ceibo

We got to make friends with some super cute kids in the town of Ceibo, who asked us tough questions before taking us on a fun run through town together. Ceibo kiddos 2

The great 8 in ceibo school
Awaiting the hard-hitting interview questions from 1st graders.
Great 8 walking with ceibo kids
A dash through Ceibo, Costa Rica, the town with only one road

At the indigenous town of Boruca, friends and our homestay families there helped us to throw a surprise birthday party for Sydney. There was a hike to a waterfall with Ulises and a party at the conical house that he built.

Sydney's birthday party
  Ulises and Great 8 at waterfall

At the conical house in boruca

Last but for-SURE-not-least, the guy who supplies a lot of fun and photos, too: Trevor Ritland! We love all that you do to get that shot. Thanks, Trev, for giving us material for this post and many others!!   On the river edge at ceibo

Trevor 1
That's Trevor and what he loves most: his camera and rock walls.