San Pedrillo, Corcovado National Park (2/15-21/08)
Day 3 (2/15):
This morning there was a crocodile in the bay just 20m offshore.It was funny because two girls tried to go swimming only to realize that they were really close to a crocodile.Also, all the pelicans were on the rocks, avoiding the water at all costs.A Great Blue Heron didn't seem to mind though.
We went on four different hikes today with four different teachers.By the way we travel around with 1 prof (Alan), 4 TAs (Pablo, Mancho, Tegan, and Tanya), a logistics coordinator (Kathy), and reptile, amphibian, and bird specialist (Mark Wainwright).The first hike (with Mark) was on flat ground through a patch of secondary forest where we saw a large sphinx moth caterpillar, lichens, spotted sanderlings, and a clump of thousands of harvestman spiders.The second hike (with Pablo & Mancho) was up a slope along the river where we say howler monkeys, trigona bees (whom build long tubular nests at the bases of tree trunks), bromeliads, boat-billed herons, buttresses, a black-throated trogan (beautiful), lizards, and a basilisk (whom walks on water hence its name Jesus-chirst iguana).Our next hike was uphill with Tanya into a patch of primary forest with beautiful old growth, spiraling vines and roots, leaf cutter ants, a peliated woodpecker, and leaf-nosed bats.Our final hike, with Alan, was low-key right on the beach where I wanted to be.We sat directly under an almond tree where I almost fell asleep listening to Alan discuss plant taxonomy while watching the beach.He mixed it up though by showing us this huge female orb-weaving spider as she engulfed a grasshopper the size of her head.
Day 4 (2/16):
It poured rain the night before and I was awoken by Katelyn poking me to close the rain fly.This got my day started early and I awoke only to step out of my tent to a beach where I took a one-hour stroll.The walks on the beach were truly wonderful and spiritual in a sense for me, so I took many.In Corcovado I found myself going from extreme excitement to a bit of loneliness and I found a stroll on the beach was a great healing for this.
It was sort of neat because today we went on these Scavenger hunts where we had to find things like lizards, fungi, birds, and we had to taste plants and imitate a bird call when we got back.It was so fun because Lena, Nate, Katelyn and myself swung on tree ropes, climbed trees, and enjoyed a bath in a nearby watering hole.It was a great exercise because it forced us to immerse all of our senses into our surroundings (I love things like this).We also looked for things we might not have looked for before like scarab beetles under the leaf litter, or monkey pot fruits in our path.On the way pack though it got really dark so we hiked through the forest in the dark with the sounds of cicadas, monkeys, and creaky trees around us.It really allowed me to listen to the noises, which created a different perspective of the rainforest.We also saw leaf-cutter ant mounds the size of my bedroom.It is incredible how much work they can do for being such a small animal.I think it is because of their really organized social system and its ability to be incredibly efficient.Can you imagine if all people were that efficient?
Day 5 (2/17):
We had scrambled eggs with salsa for breakfast, which reminded me of home.We also had homemade bread, which was came everyday while we were in Corcovado, what a treat.Today was a day for field experiments.My group was counting the number of Norops sp. lizards without tails under the assumption that male Norops sp. whom have a large orange dewlap (expandable pouch on the neck) would have more cut off tails because they are more easily seen by predators.However, they move so quickly and camouflage into the leaf litter so well, so we only found like 50 individuals.It was so neat though because as we began our search through the forest it began to pour.We all got drenched and it was completely refreshing.At one point we got to a waterfall.It looked like a photo one would see in a National Geographic with everything fresh, bright green, and picaresque.It was beautiful.To escape the rain a bit we went into a hollowed tree where a few bats lived.I got pooped on.
That evening I explored the tidepools and found one with urchins, aggregating green anemones, colonial tunicates, brittle stars, a tube worm, bright blue reef fish, hermit crabs, and coralline algae.The tidepools are pretty bare in Corcovado for the most part and I would assume that maybe the way the inlet is exposed settlement may be hard or maybe the nutrient availability is low in the bay.Who knows, I am no biological oceanographer.
After presenting our data we all were given temporary tattoos (mine was a jaguar) and told that the last one to keep it pristine would be bought a fancy drink at the next nice restaurant we went to.It is still going on, and my tattoo is pretty much gone and covered in grime even though I wash my hands and shower.Eww.
Day 6 (2/18):
We went on this really long hike (6 hours one way) through one of the last remaining old growth patches in Costa Rica.I started to think about the idea of shifting baselines; that our perceptions of what something is will be based on what we are able to see. So, for those of us who haven't spent time in old growth forest, we don't truly know what it is or what a forest could become again when managed/protected.That is why it is so important to see it, experience it, and make sure that it can last.It really felt incredible to be able to see this patch of forest and know how big and diverse a rainforest can feel.It really emphasized the need for environmental education and experiences in nature, that an ethic to protect a place can only start with an experience in that place.
Anyway, so we hiked for hours only to come to a gorgeous beach where I found a lot of awesome shells.I noticed that a lot of the shells were purple and orange colors, which was different from the Oregon coast where most shells are white or light brown.I wonder why this is or if it is even valid?
By the way, I feel like such a naturalist in these hecka' long blog entries.
Day 7 (2/19): Isla del Cano
Alan (our teacher) looked like a pirate today as he took us out on boats to the nearby island, Isla del Cano.There we were able to snorkel.I saw lots of beautiful fish.OH YEAH, on the boat ride out a group of dolphins were next to the boat and they were jumping completely out of the water, so much grace.I got a video of it, so hopefully I will be able to post it.I never thought I would get excited about dolphins, but their presence it so energetic and wonderful.
After snorkeling we took some time on the island to discuss the concept of Island Biogeography.I think this was review for most of us, but it was wonderful to think that islands can be good indicators of global climate change because they are like small microcosms of the 'islands' humans have fragmented on the main land.They will feel the effects fast and they teach us that biodiversity, size, shape, etc. are important factors when planning a protected area.
When returning from the island there was lots of games like Egyptian rat screw and speed going on.My reflexes were slow from being in the sun, but it was fun to play cards.That evening we had a sing-along.They have a couple guitars and mandolins on the field trip as well has these awesome song-books Alan made with lyrics and chords.This makes it so anyone can sing and play.We sang everything: eagles, backstreet boys, radiohead, counting crows, van morrison, pink floyd, beatles, etc.It was so fun!!!I guess Alan is in a band and we will be going to one of his performances in April.
Day 8 (2/20):
Today was our last day in San Pedrillo and we were able to spend a lot of time on the beach learning about plant adaptations on the beach, tidepools, and marine birds.It was a really beautiful day, perfect temperature and sunshine amount.
I remember being really amazed at how active people have been.We have done a lot of Frisbee, soccer, swimming, and hiking.And everyone is so happy because of it.We also were given beer by Alan at the lecture tonight.A bit strange, but fitting because it was so cold and we hadn't had cold beverages in a very long time.The beer here sucks by the way.
Tonight we had our last night hike (3rd of 3).We put up a net and were trying to catch bats, but were unfortunately unsuccessful.We did get a few more bug bites though. Yay.