After turning in all of our final projects at Palo Verde, we woke up early Friday morning and headed to Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa is a beautiful national park hosting, among other beaches, Playa Naranjo- a sea turtle nesting hotspot and surfing paradise. We hiked around 8 miles from the park entrance to the beach, starting in a tropical dry forest similar to Palo Verde and ending in the mangroves near the beach. We were totally unplugged for the weekend, camping near the beach and swimming and relaxing during the day. It was a much needed break from our experiments, but we did get some great lectures on sea turtles, vertebrate biology, and mangrove ecology.
Playa Naranjo was not only a beautiful beach, but also has some crazy biodiversity. Before we hiked in we were warned that the day before a jaguar had hopped onto the hood of the park ranger’s car on that very trail! We were also incredibly lucky with nesting sea turtles – Ryan warned us that they haven’t seen sea turtles on this FSP in the last five years, but as a group we saw 3+ nesting mama sea turtles (Olive Ridleys and Hawksbills) and then stumbled across a nest hatching our first night! It was such an incredibly organic and awesome experience to watch the little hatchlings fight their way down the beach into the ocean.
We’re in the cloud forest of Monteverde now, nursing our sunburns and going out of our minds about this brand new ecosystem- wet, muddy, and cool, with hummingbirds overhead and so much plant diversity I just can’t wrap my mind around it. Today we did some orientation hiking and started brainstorming ideas for our new projects. More on the bromeliads, orchids, epiphytes, and hummingbird projects to come!
– Emily Goodwin ’14