In our first day of exploration, National Geographic Sea Lion
took us to Curu Wildlife Refuge.
Located within the shallow Gulf of Nicoya, this private protected
area is an example of the nation’s efforts to work together in conservation
between the public and private sector. In order to extend the territory covered
by forest, biological corridors reduce to flora and fauna pressure for habitat.
An old mango and teak wood plantation was turned into a protected
area in which the amount of wildlife seen today was just stunning. Even the
endangered white-tailed deer is abundant, and we saw adults and juveniles. Then
a large number of individuals and troops of white-faced capuchin monkeys showed
us their omnivorous behavior as they were in search for insects, fruits, leaves
and even meat as we saw them along our hike.
Howler monkeys started calling, like if they were jealous because
we were seeing the white-faced monkeys. We heard a troop that was probably at
least one mile away, but because their hyoid bone is about 20 times larger than
that one of other species and it works as an amplifier of sounds, they seemed
to be right at our back. Another pack of them approached us and allowed us to
notice the difference in their look and behavior compared to the capuchin
monkeys. Howlers are more lethargic because they feed primarily on leaves and
leaves are hard to digest due to the cellulose content and the lack of an
enzyme in the howlers to digest it.
The highlight of the day was a juvenile tamandua or anteater who
was feeding by the path. We enjoyed its presence granting us a clear view as it
moved through the understory of the forest.
Agoutis, white-nosed coatis, raccoons, geacarcinus crabs known as
Halloween crabs due to their colors, and lots of birds such as squirrel
cuckoos, the elusive long-tailed manakin, green-breasted mango hummingbirds and
crested caracaras among others as well as black spiny-tailed lizards, and even
a large boa constrictor were present in this magnificent reserve.
In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to kayak, stand-up paddleboard
and relax by the beautiful beach at Tortuga Island in the warm waters of the
tropical Pacific Ocean to finish our successful first day of exploration having
a delicious barbeque dinner that the galley generously prepared for us under
the light of the moon.
And tomorrow will be another beautiful day in paradise!