Central America Expedition 2010: Day 6 – Leatherback Trust, Costa Rica

March 18, 2010

EnriqueOur last morning with Leatherback Trust began with a boat trip on the Tamarindo Estuary, a mangrove forest ecosystem that essentially serves as the filter for the entire Playa Grande area. Mangroves stabilize coastal lands and are important feeding and reproductive habitats for a wide range of bird and aquatic species. We visited the estuary with a guide named Enrique, one of many Playa Grande–area residents who used to collect leatherback turtle eggs for food but now make a living through conservation-oriented activities.

Enrique took us up the Tamarindo River deep into the heart of the forest, where red mangroves spread their fantastic root systems, camouflaged crocodiles lurked in the river and on its banks, and countless birds including ospreys, hawks, herons, and kingfishers perched in the trees and along the shore. As we headed back to our disembarkation point, we passed a tree filled with howler monkeys. Suddenly, Enrique began imitating their sounds – so realistically that the monkeys responded as if he were one of them!

Howler monkeysWe finished up our time in Playa Grande with an interview with Rotney Piedra, a biologist and the director of Las Baulas Marine National Park. From there it was off to Tamarindo Airport for the flight back to San Jose and on to new adventures with our next project, the School for Field Studies.

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