Miscellaneous / 03.05.2012

[caption id="attachment_2495" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Our new Land Conservation Manager, Max Villalobos"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_2493" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Our new Stations Manager, Larry Villalobos"][/caption]
As with any well-oiled machine, Osa Conservation is nothing without its nuts and bolts. Our wonderful staff dedicate a tremendous amount of time and energy to helping us protect the land and wildlife of the Osa Peninsula, and today we would like to introduce our newest team members: Larry and Max Villalobos. Born and raised in Costa Rica, Max and Larry have always been avid fans of nature. Prior to his position at Osa Conservation, Larry, a self-employed water-rappelling entrepreneur,  had been accustomed to moving around due to his work in hotels. Both Larry and Max feel a close emotional bond with the Osa Peninsula, having always known it's significance to Costa Rica and to the world.
Marine Conservation, Science and Research / 06.04.2012

[caption id="attachment_2471" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Side by side, you can begin to see the characteristics that visibly differentiate the three sea turtle species we documented inside Golfo Dulce."][/caption] When we began our research, nobody expected us to find very many sea turtles inside Golfo Dulce — most sea turtle activity was thought to occur on the Pacific side of the Osa Peninsula. It turned out that chelonids were the most frequently seen family of animals, accounting for 38 percent of our total sightings. Discovering such significant numbers of sea turtles was one of our most important findings. Sadly, fishermen with many years of experience in Golfo Dulce say the sea turtles there have declined at least 30 percent in recent years. Jorge and I documented three species: Pacific Black sea turtles, still commonly referred to as “Greens” (Chelonia mydas agassizii), Olive Ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) and Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata). Locals also reported seeing near-extinct Pacific Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) inside Golfo Dulce. That’s four endangered species of sea turtles utilizing the embayment. Amazing! Our biseasonal data show Golfo Dulce to be a year-round feeding and breeding area for endangered Green sea turtles. We logged over a hundred sightings of them between both surveys. This species, by far the most common, was usually observed in the upper regions of the gulf resting at the sea surface. But we also documented Green sea turtles mating in all four quadrants of the inlet, so their use of the fiord waters appears widespread.
Marine Conservation, Science and Research / 23.03.2012

[caption id="attachment_2461" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Dolphin B43 shown alongside a rendered outline of its dorsal fin. We saw this individual five times."][/caption] An unexpected but delightful result of our survey work in Golfo Dulce was the identification of about 80 individual Bottlenose dolphins (Turciops truncatus), some of which can be seen in the Appendix of my 2010 report. How does one go about identifying dolphins? Well, pioneering biologists studying various species discovered ingenious ways to distinguish individuals. Jaguars have unique spots. Gorillas have unique nose prints. Dolphins have unique dorsal fins. By examining the shape, natural markings, scars and trailing edge, a dorsal may appear as distinct as a fingerprint. Of course dolphins don’t sit quietly at the surface while you study the intricacies of their dorsal patterns, so ID work is best done through photos. Luckily, we managed to get photographs for almost 90 percent of our dolphin sightings.
Birds / 16.03.2012

As Published in The Leader-Telegram They have a saying in Costa Rica: "Pura vida." It literally translates as "pure life," but to Costa Ricans, it can be inserted into many contexts and applications: "Thank you," "You're welcome," "So it goes," "Wonderful." It is used so freely here I wouldn't be surprised if it meant, "Pass the papaya, por favor." I'd dreamed of visiting Costa Rica since I was 12, and recently for two glorious weeks I got to sample the "pure life" - visiting the southernmost quarter of this West Virginia-sized nation - from San Jose down nearly to Panama. My introduction to the Pacific rain forest lowlands began with Roy Orozco, a soft-spoken, gracious naturalist out of Quepos. First light for birding in the tropics is 5:30 a.m., so Roy picked me up at 4 a.m. at the Costa Verde II parking lot near Quepos to drive an hour and a half up the coast to Carara National Park, west of San Jose. Carara, one of Costa Rica's marquee ecotourism destinations, is a unique mix of "life zones," where the drier habitat of the north meets the wet lowlands of the south.
Science and Research / 08.03.2012

By Claire Standley [caption id="attachment_3942" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Our first sunset at the Greg Gund Conservation Center at Cerro Osa, January 2011 (© Claire Standley)"][/caption] Diseases aren’t supposed to be the first thing you think about when visiting a new place, especially one as beautiful as the Osa. However, when you’re a disease ecologist like my colleague Peter and me, it’s sometimes hard to keep parasites out of your head. Figuratively, that is! So, even before our first trip to Cerro Osa in January 2011, as part of a tropical ecology course with Princeton University, we had begun thinking of ways we could tie in the unique ecology of the Osa with our own research. Trawling through the wonderfully informative Osa Conservation website, we had eagerly devoured information on the landscape and ecosystem we would be exploring. We found out how Osa Conservation was working to create a biological corridor of rainforest habitat between Cabo Matapalo at one end of the peninsula and Corcovado National Park at the other. That intrigued us. Both of us also have conservation backgrounds, and so we were well aware of the positive benefits of connecting patches of habitat, such as giving predators larger areas to hunt in, and decreasing the chance of inbreeding, which can occur if animals are squished into too small an area. However, we also knew of some theoretical work that our boss, Professor Andy Dobson, had done looking at how corridors, by increasing connectivity between animal populations, might affect disease transmission. Could the Osa peninsula provide us with a natural laboratory for testing some of these ideas?
Marine Conservation, Science and Research / 02.03.2012

[caption id="attachment_2409" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="These three photos show a baby Humpback whale next to its resting mama – TOP: nursing; MIDDLE: breathing; and BOTTOM: spyhopping"][/caption] A variety of whale species may be found in the eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of Costa Rica, including Byrde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni), Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) and Killer whale (Orcinus orca). But the most commonly seen whale inside the Golfo Dulce is the Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), a species that annually migrates from colder feeding grounds near the...

Birds, Volunteers and Visitors / 01.03.2012

The 2011 Osa Peninsula Audubon Christmas Bird Count summary is finally in. This Christmas, participants included Osa Conservation, Bosque del Rio Tigre, Bosque del Cabo, El Remanso, Iguana Lodge, Luna Lodge, Lapa Ríos, SurcosTours and Blue Ave. Participants spent 78.5 hours monitoring birds in the Osa Peninsula, spotting a total of 4,506 birds. Click here for the full report!...

Uncategorized / 03.02.2012

El 26 de Noviembre 2011, Conservación Osa (CO) y el Área de Conservación Osa (ACOSA) organizaron un mini simposio en la Estación Biológica Piro con el objetivo de abrir un espacio de intercambio de los resultados de las investigaciones desarrolladas en ACOSA, tanto por CO como por otros investigadores.
Community Outreach, Environmental Education / 03.02.2012

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="291" caption="The 2012 Osa Science Symposium was attended by 14 presenters and many members of the environmental community"][/caption] Osa Conservation recently hosted a science symposium at the Piro Research Center. The event brought together scientists and conservationists to share information and results from various research conducted throughout the Osa Peninsula.  The symposium was organized in partnership with representatives from ACOSA (Osa Conservation Area) and was attended by 14 presenters and many members of the environmental community. The day began with welcoming remarks from Osa Conservation’s executive director,...

Birds, Volunteers and Visitors / 13.01.2012

[caption id="attachment_2346" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="CBC participant and guide Nito Paniagua"][/caption] It is that time of year again; time to count birds throughout the Americas in the name of conservation and science.  A more than 100 year tradition, the Audubon Society has led the charge to bring together citizen scientists, biologists and bird enthusiasts from Canada to the southern tip of South America to conduct one of the largest bird censuses on the planet – The Christmas Bird Count.  The count takes place during one 24 hour period between December...