The name “Brown pelican” belies the attractive hues of a mature bird.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that during our 400+ hours of observation in Golfo Dulce, Jorge and I witnessed an astonishing array of marine life. Indeed, we were astounded by the intense biodiversity revealed to us during our research. In addition to the animals I’ve already blogged about in this series, many more are worth mentioning. Some were officially documented, others were not, but all helped define our emerging portrait of Golfo Dulce.
Brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) are commonly seen in Golfo Dulce and we located a year-round communal roosting area along the banks of Piedras Blancas National Park in the upper half of Golfo Dulce. We saw many other marine birds, too, including Brown boobies, magnificent frigates, osprey, several species of gulls, terns, swallows, herons, ibis and dozens more wading and estuary birds.
An anticipatory rumble of thunder sounds far away, off shore. It has an almost calming sound as we make our way through the dark squishy forest path, the sky patterned with silhouettes of tree leaves. The jungle is alive with night sounds, from the echoing song of the nightjar to the almost space-invader beep of frogs on Las Rocas trail. A silky white two-toed sloth is spotted, high up in a tree, taking the night off. I envy its slow slumber for just a moment before I remember that this trail is taking me down to the beach, down to witness a spectacular and sacred event, one that only a few people in the world have the chance to be a part of. Tonight, I am walking a stretch of beach along which nesting mother sea turtles will, with great care and diligence, lay their precious eggs in the sand.
On our first day at the Cerro Osa Station, we met Max Villalobos, our Internship Coordinator. He led us on a hike through some of the beautiful trails between the Cerro Osa and Piro Biological stations. Along the way, Max taught us about the native wildlife, briefed us on Osa Conservation’s mission to promote biodiversity and awareness, and explained how we would be able to lend a hand. Our contribution would be to survey the secondary forest and create a baseline of data for their reforestation efforts, which are now in their third year.
After a day of photographing several patches of forest to help document changes in the landscape, we began our surveying project with a staff member, Agustin Mendoza. Without Agustin’s expansive knowledge of the Peninsula’s flora and fauna, not to mention his prowess with a machete, our work would have been almost impossible to complete. Over the next three weeks, we marked 117 12×12-meter subplots and took notes on the planted species within them. Additionally, we documented the percent canopy cover of each subplot and the number of Pachote trees, which are now remnants of the previous plantation here. With this data, Osa Conservation will be able to track their reforestation progress by pin-pointing the best locations for individual tree species.
Hansel Herrera Vargas, a Costa Rican biologist with a Bachelor’s degree from Berry College, Georgia, USA, is Osa Conservation’s new volunteer coordinator. The following is his first-hand account of his move to the Osa. Hansel has been very busy this summer, as the 2012 Sea Turtle Volunteer Program is well under way. Apply today for this opportunity to experience the wonderful Osa Peninsula!
Mamon Chino (Photo: Mario Melendez)
I embarked on my first journey to the Osa Peninsula just before sunset on a rainy July afternoon. The road south brought glimpses of a magical landscape where the jungle mixes with the sea. My lungs filled with dozens of new scents: the sweet smell of Mamon Chino (Nephelium lappaceum), the soft smell of Carambola (Averrhoa carambola), the stench of Nonis (Morinda citrifolia), the Mimbro fruit (Averrhoa bilimbí), guava (Inga edulis), cocoa (Theobroma cacao), and many others.
The road to Puerto Jimenez brings one across many rivers and many histories. There are dozens of towns and cities dotting the road from Costa Rica’s capital to the Osa, and the nine hour bus ride is filled with sightings of beautiful mountains and valleys, exotic birds, and ancient trees.
In an effort to prove that it is better to be armed with a keen knowledge of the forest and the movements of animals than with a hunting rifle, hunters from several communities in Osa joined photographers to capture wildlife (on film!) as part of a celebration that took place for International Wildlife Day (Día de la Vida Silvestre) which took place on July 29.
With the theme, “Wild Peccaries and My Community,” they announced the winners of the photography contest, in which the communities of Los Planes, Progreso, Los Ángeles, and Drake participated. These communities are known for the presence of hunting. They spent the day walking trails and using their hunting skills to track boars, cats, peccaries, and other wildlife.
Hunters from Los Planes, El Progreso, Rincón, Los Ángeles and Drake – all communities in Osa – took part in the event. The photo competition was sponsored by ACOSA (Osa Conservation Area) with the help of various NGOs including the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), Corcovado Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Yaguará, Ascona, and Osa Conservation. Our own wonderful Pilar Bernal helped organize and coordinate the event. You can see the article below for more information about this successful effort to regulate hunting in favor of biodiversity protection. Thanks to everyone who participated!