Here is a look back at Reserva Playa Tortuga where I was working as a volunteer.
Between June 8 - June 22, 2017 I had the opportunity to help along at Reserva Playa Tortuga in Costa Rica. I once again asked the organisation WorkingAbroad to help organize my journey and stay, as it was also my first visit in Central-America. I was also pretty excited to explore this small gem and with the help of Oscar, Adrian, Melissa and Gaby, my stay at Reserva Playa Tortuga was made so much pleasant too. Here is a summary of the activities I was also involved in.
The first week I had the opportunity to help check what kind of birds are seen in the neighborhood. The majority were small birds but occasionally we were also able to see exotic birds where people are living. Here you see the Red-crowned Woodpecker, Great Kiskadee and the Crested Guan. The last mentioned was also a highlight for the Reserva's inventory as it was the first time in two years that it was spotted in the neighborhood again.
This felt more like a night tour for me, but in reality we were scanning the neighborhoods' forest for snakes. Weighing, measuring and collecting more data info about the reptiles is the easy part, the challenging part was trying to catch it first. During my stay I have only seen juveniles.
In the pictures above you see: the Northern Cat-eyed snake, a Slender-tree boa, the Common blunt-headed tree snake and the Central American tree boa. Haven't spotted any venemous snakes while I was there.
Once per week we also headed out during the night trying to catch Caimans and Crocodiles. As the Rainy season has also started in Costa Rica, our search was done by foot instead with a boat (trying to avoid calamities on the water). Juveniles (this is an American Crocodile) were caught with a snake tongue tool while young adults (picture shows a Spectacled Caiman) where caught with a rope. Besides collecting data about these reptiles (weight, different lengths and sex) we also checked the weather, place and their habitat.
Turtle walk and Hatchery:
It was green season when I arrived so I did not see any turtles during my stay. We had to monitor the first turtle on the beach just to know when the season would start. That means we had to patrol during the nights the Playa Tortuga for any sighting. Sometimes our patrol was cut short when the tide was still high.
And while we were looking for the first turtle to appear we were making preparation for the eggs. Since the sand of the beach wasn't the same as the one in Grenada, the turtle eggs are being relocated. Here you see we already had our camp beds, meant for night patrols, and we were busy building a hatchery for the eggs. When I left the Reserva they were still busy with the hatchery.
Every week we had education days. Either the school is visiting the Reserva or we were at their schools. Since the government declared the month June as Environmental month, they organized weekly an event at every school. As you can see in the pictures, the schoolkids were pretty young (age 5 - 8). The easiest way to let them learn something new was by letting them get involved in the project (a lot of coloring and painting).
Near the volunteers' house the Reserva also has a Butterfly Garden and Lab, where they take care of butterflies, caterpillars and cocoons. 3 times a week I had to help collect caterpillars in the garden, transfer them into the lab and also feed them, transfer cocoons into the cocoons cage. And don't forget about writing down a report after you finished. The most difficult part was trying to transfer new born butterflies in the Butterfly Garden, luckily Melissa was there to help us out.
What to see in the neighborhood:
I was also able to see other wild life in the neighborhood of Reserva Playa Tortuga. This Roadside Hawk for instance is a well known predator, one that likes to terrorize his surroundings.
White-throated Capuchins were seen every morning passing by the volunteers house. You had to be quick to take a photo as they were extremely shy to pose for you.
During one of our night surveys we also spotted a Red-eyed Tree frog resting on a leaf.
Young Green Iguana's were seen in abundance, especially during the night you could spot groups sleeping in between the branches.
Eating at the Reserva:
The Reserva took great care of their volunteers and their supervisors. Here for instance are 2 different dishes we had for lunch, just to have an idea.
Here I was helping out students and their professor during shark monitoring. The locals caught some fish and sharks, before they sold the sharks we had a certain amount of time to meassure and weight every shark they caught.
Before I knew it my 2 weeks were over at Reserva Playa Tortuga. I have learned so much in this short amount of time and also was able to spot so many wild life too. Below you can find on the list what I've seen during those 2 weeks.
For sure it was a different experience compared with my volunteer days at the Tambopata Research Centre (Peru) and with Ocean Spirits (Grenada), but in the end I also gained so much knowledge about the diversity in Playa Tortuga.
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