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.
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.