Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
In 1959, the Caribbean Conservation Corporation CCC (now Sea Turtle Conservancy) was founded to study and protect the Caribbean Green Turtles. Mr. Archie Carr, its leader and founding scientific director, a tropical field ecologist and biologist who at the time of his death was known as the world’s leading authority in sea turtles.
Working closely with the Costa Rican government, they helped establish, on October 28th 1975, what is now the Tortuguero National park, as a resource of protection, not only of the turtles but of the wildlife and its biodiversity. This is especially relevant if we consider that Tortuguero is the most important site in the Western Caribbean for the nesting of this endangered species and is also one of Costa Rica’s most biologically diverse wildlife areas.
The Park is located in the North Caribbean Costa Rican coast, 80 kms north of the city of Limon. It features an extension of 26,156 ha inland and approximately 50,160 marine hectares.
Tortuguero is a very wet tropical forest, with an approximate annual average rainfall of 4,500 to 6,000 mm, reason of its evergreen and verdant landscapes and an average annual temperature of 26°C (78.8°F).
Tortuguero is a network of navigable lakes, rivers and canals (both natural and man-made) that are used for transportation inland and also are a great opportunity to enjoy the local wildlife of more than 300 species of birds, amphibian and freshwater fish species, approximately 400 tree species some of which are the base of famous perfumes and colognes like the Ilan-Ilan Zota Caballo and others tlike the Pachira), that provides beautiful flower and scent, around 2,200 species of other plants and many animals including 3 species of monkeys (White-faced Capuchin, spider and Howler), two and three-toed sloths, American crocodiles and caimans, among many others and as well providing shelter to endangered animals such as manatees, tapirs and jaguars, to name a few.
Fauna is so diverse in Tortuguero, with more than 350 identified bird species, mammals, amphibian, reptiles and freshwater fish species residing in Tortuguero plus the famous nesting of different turtle species (leatherback, green turtle, loggerhead and hawksbill) being the Green Turtle the only species for which there are organized tours to see.
Some interesting examples you might see on your visit include: three monkey species (Howler, white faced Capuchin and Spider), two and three toed sloth, anighas, egrets, herons, scarlet and green macaws, toucans, American Crocodiles, caimans, Basiliks and lizards, among many others.
Flora in Tortuguero is lush, verdant, abundant and evergreen. The area is home to approximately 400 tree species and around 2,200 of plants, with vegetation that varies from coastal vegetation to wet forestlands. The wetlands are important ecosystems that have an important role in the regulation of the river flow and are spawning zones for some fish species, while providing a habitat for plants, insects and birds.
The trees found in Tortuguero delight us with delicious scents and fragances, beautiful views, some with colorful flowers and are home to the varied wildlife of the area. Some interesting species you’ll find include the Pachira, the Ilan-Ilan (the flower is used as a main ingredient in several famous perfumes and colognes like Anais-Anais by Cacharel), sota caballo, the oil tree is very common in Tortuguero and so are many species of trees that form large buttressed root systems.