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A Tale of Two Whale Seasons in Costa Rica

A Tale of Two Whale Seasons in Costa Rica

Imagine yourself on vacation at the Discovery Beach House in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. You walk out through the resplendent backyard rain forest with its enormous lap pool and onto the beach. You see a mama whale and her calf breach high out of the water and make a huge splash (and a small one) right in Espadilla Bay. I’ve seen it, and it’s impressive. I’m sure you’ll love it too. Here’s an interesting fact, there are two whale seasons in Costa Rica. Much like yourself, humpback whales don’t all come from the same place when they vacation here.

If you love whales as much as I do, you’ll be ecstatic to learn the Manuel Antonio area has the luxury of two humpback whale migrations each year. These beautiful gigantic ocean mammals (yes, they’re mammals) come here each year to enjoy the warm waters of Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. I feel so blessed we can see them nearly nine months of the year. Costa Rica has one of the longest whale seasons in the world. I know you’ll enjoy the thrill of seeing them too; they are truly majestic creatures.

We have two groups of humpback whales that come to enjoy the beautiful tropical paradise of Costa Rica, the Northern Hemisphere group and the Southern Hemisphere Antarctic whales. The Northern Hemisphere group is the smaller of the two groups and comes down from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California. This group vacations here from December until early April. The larger group is the South American group that comes up from Patagonia, which is at the Southern tip of Chile, at the very bottom of South America. They vacation here from late July to the beginning of October. Believe it or not, their migrations do not overlap. I’m continually amazed at how nature is always in perfect harmony.

Humpback whales have some of the longest migrations in the world. They swim thousands of miles just to relax and enjoy the warm pristine waters of Manuel Antonio. They’re here to enjoy the plentiful food, give birth to their babies, or find a mate. Incredibly, they’ve known how magical this area is for thousands of years.

The pleasant waters of Manuel Antonio are perfect to raise their calves, get fat on the abundant food, and prepare for the long migration back home. The males attract female whales by singing to them. Their love songs last up to 20 minutes. Come on ladies, who doesn’t appreciate being serenaded? I know I do.

Often you can spot mama and baby whales swimming alongside one another. You can almost reach out and touch them; they feel so close. It’s quite a sight. On that note, remember we can’t touch the wildlife here. They’re wild, and we must keep them that way to ensure their health and safety, free from the risks of human-borne illnesses. At the Discovery Beach House, we only use expert guides and reputable companies that work to protect the wildlife and their beautiful habitats.

Be sure to ask your concierge at the Discovery Beach House to help figure out which whale watching tours will be best for you and your family. Not all the tours are the same; the time of year will determine which company we recommend. Both whale seasons in Costa Rica are great.

By now, you’ve likely already searched your calendar and checked out when you can vacation here and see the whales. I love August and September at the Discovery Beach House in Manuel Antonio. During the beautiful green season, the weather is generally cooler than in the dry season (December to April). There are fewer visitors, and you get to experience the splendor of the rainforest.

Come and visit us. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact us. Check out our YouTube Channel and follow our Blog, for fun and pertinent content about Manuel Antonio, the best spot to vacation in Costa Rica.

Rob Our Howler Monkey Man

We have quite a bit of fun at the Discovery Beach House. One of our good friends, Rob, does an amazing impression of a howler monkey. This summer he regaled us with his story of meeting a howler monkey and how he kept the monkey away. What do you think of his imitation?

Did you know howler monkeys’ voices can be heard up to three miles away? I’m not sure if Rob’s voice could be heard that far away, but close!

TAPIRS ARE SO COOL  And Costa Rica is Their Last Best Hope for Survival

TAPIRS ARE SO COOL And Costa Rica is Their Last Best Hope for Survival

By Jack Ewing, as appeared in the Quepolandia, July 23, 2018

Tapir

Biologist and taper specialist, Charlie Foerster, once told me about an experience he had while standing on a high spot looking down over an embankment into a river when a tapir walked across a shallow area and continued into a deep pool until its head was submerged. Its elongated nose stuck out of the water like a snorkel until the animal reached the deepest part of the pool, and it too went under the surface. The water was clear and Charlie could see hordes of small fish surround the tapir and peck away at all of the ticks, lice and other external parasites attached to its hide, while the tapir blew bubbles. After a while the large mammal surfaced, took several deep breaths and sunk back to the bottom repeating the process a couple more times. Finally it walked out of the pool free of all its unwelcome hitchhikers. Now that’s what I call cool.

The Central American Tapir (Tapirus bairdii) sometimes called Baird’s Tapir, is the largest land mammal in Central and South America. They are about the size of a small cow—an adult will weigh up to 350 kg—but are shaped more like a pig. A long, prehensile snout, that has also been called a short trunk, is used to grasp vegetation and pull it into the tapir’s mouth. The front feet have three large toes and a fourth smaller toe located a little bit higher on the foot. The back feet have only three toes. This puts them in the same family as the horse and rhinoceros, the odd-toed ungulates. They love water and are seldom found far from it.

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Karma Saving the Rainforest

Karma Saving the Rainforest

By Karma Casey for Kids Saving The Rainforest, as published in Quepolandia.com, July 15, 2018

KSTR vets helping injured sloth
Kids Saving The Rainforest

Hello again Quepolandia readers. Happy 20th birthday to this amazing magazine, which is twice as old as me! Thanks for reading!

This is Karma Casey, the spokes-kid from Kids Saving the Rainforest. For those of you who don’t know who we are, KSTR is a wildlife rescue and sanctuary outside of Quepos, Costa Rica. We help two-toed and three-toed sloths, monkeys, coatimundis, kinkajous, porcupines, parrots, and more! We also plant trees, put up wildlife bridges, educate the public, and do lots of other things to help save the rainforest. If you find sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife, contact our veterinary staff via What’sApp at 88-ANIMAL (506-8826-4625) and we can help!

This month’s article is about probably one of your favorite animals: A sloth!

I have interviewed some of the lucky, hard-working members of our veterinary clinic team to tell you all about one super special and amazing two-toed sloth named Senor Dona.

Dona is an adult male two- toed sloth who was found over an hour away towards Jaco. Kids Saving the Rainforest was alerted by our friends at MINAE and SINAC (two government agencies that work hard to protect Costa Rica’s environment and wildlife) that a sloth had been hit by a car. The wildlife professionals at KSTR quickly came to the rescue, and Senor Dona was rushed to our veterinary clinic.

Injured sloth rushed to vet clinic
Kids Saving The Rainforest

Upon examination, developing burns were discovered on Dona’s body that were evidence of electrocution. Senor Dona was sadly electrocuted, fell, and then got hit by a car. That’s a lot for a sloth! Due to his injuries, he cannot move the lower half of his body.

Kids Saving the Rainforest is doing everything we can to help Senor Dona regain the use of his legs and get well again, including giving special daily sloth massages, and trying non-traditional forms of healing to help him on his way! Joining our efforts is Dr. Tania Zeledon, a veterinarian from San Jose. Dr. Zeledon specializes in alternative healing therapies for animals. She travels to Quepos once a week to give acupuncture to people’s pets, and she is donating part of her time to helping Senor Dona!

Acupuncture for injured sloth
Kids Saving The Rainforest

Dr. Zeledon performs acupuncture on Dona, inserting needles into his skin at special acupuncture points to stimulate healing. Don’t worry, the needles are tiny and she is helping him to get better! She also performs Ozone therapy and therapeutic massage. The clinic team has learned lots of new and different ways of looking at healing animals from Dr. Zeledon, which Kids Saving the Rainforest can use to help Senor Dona and other animals who come to us needing help!

Senor Dona has been progressing slowly with everyone’s help. He still cannot properly use his back legs, but he has been able to hang some and with time we hope he will keep getting better and better. He is a brave and courageous two-toed sloth who has been through a lot!

If you’d like to help support Senor Dona on his journey to recovery, visit our website at http://kidssavingtherainforest.org. And don’t forget! Slow down and watch out for wildlife as you are driving around Costa Rica! We share this beautiful country with many amazing creatures big and small, and they depend on us to treat with them with the respect they all deserve!

KSTR rehabilitation of wildlife
Kids Saving The Rainforest

A special thanks to Dr. Tania Zeledon. If you’d like to speak to her about acupuncture for your pets, you can reach her at (506)8854-8984.

To sign up for a guided tour of the Kids Saving the Rainforest wildlife sanctuary, please visit our website at http://kidssavingtherainforest.org or email
chip@kstr.org.

If you’d like to write to Karma, she can be reached at spokeskid@kstr.org.

Kids Saving The Rainforest logo
Kids Saving The Rainforest

 

Sloths ENdangered or IN Danger?

Sloths ENdangered or IN Danger?

By Sam Trull, The Sloth Institute. Published November 6, 2016

A question I get asked often is “Are sloths endangered?”. While the sloths of Costa Rica may not be categorized as ENdangered, they are still very much IN danger. Every day critical habitat is destroyed and sloths are injured by human encroachment. They can’t run across roads, jump through gaps in the forest or fend off dogs. In addition, underlying diseases and abilities to adjust to an ever changing world go un-detected without targeted research initiatives. There are active steps we can take towards creating a safer, healthier and happier future for wild sloths in Costa Rica.  But first we need to learn, what makes a healthy sloth?  What factors affect the health of individual sloths and sloth populations? In order to truly tackle these questions, we recently completed the build of Monster’s WiSH (Wild Sloth Health) lab.

As a part of our research, we take various samples from the wild sloths that we are tracking so that we can monitor different health parameters to get an overall picture of the quality of life of certain sloth individuals and ultimately populations of sloths.  Everything from weight, body measurements, feces, blood, hair, photos and more can be collected non-invasively to help us paint a clearer picture about baseline sloth health and what factors affect that baseline.  With this lab space, we will be able to collect comprehensive knowledge about common sloth diseases in wild populations. We aim to not only investigate the baseline health of ‘normal’ sloth populations, but also correlate this information with habitat quality so that we can make recommendations on how to better develop human encroached areas to improve the health and quality of life for wild sloth populations in Costa Rica before it is too late. This lab is an instrumental part of our ever growing WiSH program providing our team a perfect environment to work, collect, store and analyze samples.  In addition, this lab is a space where we can invite visiting researchers to collaborate on important conservation research that will save sloth lives.

We are so grateful to our incredible community of supporters that made Monster’s WiSH lab a dream come true to help us avoid sloths becoming endangered. We look forward to sharing our educational journey as we work every day to save the sloths that we all love.

Find out more about the organization and their work: http://www.theslothinstitutecostarica.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/theslothinstitute

 

 

Release of Squirrel Monkeys at KSTR

Release of Squirrel Monkeys at KSTR

By KSTR Volunteer Margarita Samsonova, Kids Saving The Rainforest

Kids Saving The Rainforest
Kids Saving The Rainforest

Kids Saving the Rainforest is in the process of establishing a reintroduction program for squirrel monkeys. Central American squirrel monkeys, also known as Saimiri oerstedi, are nearly extinct in Panama and are threatened in Costa Rica. There are only 4,000 individuals living in the wild, mostly in Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Parks, located on Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

The low population of Central American squirrel monkeys makes reintroduction programs of these species very important to sustain the population and help reproduction. In order for the release to be successful, the monkey’s behavior and its predator responses are tested to see what chance the animal has to survive in the wild. The project requires sustained long term observations and research to ensure a successful reintroduction into the wild.

One of our volunteers, Margarita Samsonova, is dedicating her time to observing candidates for release and has been testing their ability to respond to predators. The predator experiments were set on the monkeys six times using the scents of predators who are also rehabilitating in the rescue center. Scents of animals who hunt squirrel monkeys in Costa Rica such as dogs, white- faced monkeys, kinkajous and hawks were used along with their recorded vocalizations to test predator response. Pieces of cloth were placed in the predators’ enclosures overnight and then placed with the vocal recordings in the squirrel monkey enclosure the next day.

A few of the squirrel monkeys had previously been kept as pets, so it is crucial to observe their reaction and behavior to get an idea of whether the release would be successful or not. It was observed that only four of the six candidates displayed “appropriate” behavior and reacted to the predator sound and smell the same as a squirrel monkey in the wild would. Two of those candidates didn’t approach the cloth with scent, meaning that they sensed the predators’ presence and didn’t want to risk danger. The other two squirrel monkeys, after some time observing the cloth, did get the food from it but retreated to eat it, which could mean that they saw no presence of predators and decided to quickly grab the food—a normal behavior of squirrel monkeys in the wild. The remaining two individuals came right to the cloth once it was put out; they didn’t react to any vocalizations and didn’t move from the cloth to eat the food, which could mean that those animals were domesticated and may have lost their natural instinct.

The testing of behavior will continue until the beginning of April and the planned release is in mid-April. It is believed that pre-release monitoring and experiments will help to determine an estimation of which of the candidates would have high survival rates during reintroduction.

3 Catastrophic Consequences When Tourists Feed Monkeys – Part 1

3 Catastrophic Consequences When Tourists Feed Monkeys – Part 1

If you’re heading for a vacation rental home near Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica, you’re in for an incredible nature adventure. In addition to iguanas, toucans, coatimundis and more, there are 3 species of monkeys indigenous to the park.

Please don't feed the monkeys
Please don’t feed the monkeys!

Manuel Antonio National Park

When the park boundaries were established in 1972 no one bothered to tell the Howler, Red-backed squirrel and Capuchin monkeys, so they continued to follow their established foraging routes beyond the park limits. Not all but many of Manuel Antonio’s vacation rental homes are located within these natural foraging routes known locally as the “Monkey Corridor.” However, staying in one of these vacation rental homes carries with it a big responsibility. It may seem cute, funny or thrilling to hand feed the monkeys, yet it’s extremely damaging to them in many ways.

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3 Catastrophic Consequences When Tourists Feed Monkeys – Part 2

3 Catastrophic Consequences When Tourists Feed Monkeys – Part 2

One of the many attractions to Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica is the abundant wildlife particularly its primates – capuchin, howler and the endangered Red-backed squirrel monkey. Having Manuel Antonio National Park in such close proximity to many vacation rental homes gives vacationers the added thrill of seeing wildlife in their own backyard.

Unfortunately out of ignorance, indifference or for a photo opportunity many tourists feed the monkeys. However, they’re not fully to blame. Although local hotels are completely aware of the dangers, a few still encourage feeding monkeys to attract more clients. When tourists see others doing it they assume it’s acceptable. But feeding the monkeys is so detrimental to their health and survival it can have catastrophic consequences.

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Sloths

Sloths

upside down 2-toed sloth
Sloth photobomb

2-Toed Sloth, Choloepus hoffmanni & 3-Toed Sloth, Bradypus variegatus

Sloths live, feed, mate, and reproduce near the upper levels of the forest canopy. The three-toed sloth only eats leaves from trees and lianas but may feed on 50 individual trees of up to thirty species. They can live as long as 9 to 11 years.

It is not uncommon to see a sloth around Manuel Antonio. Here is a short video for you to enjoy and share.

Costa Rica Vacation Homes Where You May Just See a Jesus Christ Lizard Walk on Water

Costa Rica Vacation Homes Where You May Just See a Jesus Christ Lizard Walk on Water

If you’re on your way to Costa Rica be prepared to be dazzled by Mother Nature because she’ll command your attention, get you out of your head and for brief magical moments, she’ll wrap you in her wonder and make you a part of it all.

For instance, imagine an iridescent blue butterfly the size of an open paperback book, a monkey that howls louder than a coyote and a tree sloth so slow it grows moss. Stay tuned for more about them in future articles but for now let’s talk about the quirky Green Basilisk, nicknamed the Jesus Christ Lizard because of its ability to walk on water. Technically they run on water. But wait, add another wacky element. At several of the Manuel Antonio vacation rental homes – these lizards perform this feat in the swimming pools.

Green Basilisks have long fringed toes on their hind feet. When threatened by iguanas or other perceived predators they stand on their hind legs and run across bodies of water using their tails for balance. They spread their toes wide and run slapping their feet hard against the surface of the water, creating a pocket of air between their soles and the water, which keeps them from sinking. The trick is they have to sustain a speed of 5 feet per second, otherwise, gravity wins and they have to resort to their excellent swimming skills.

How do they do that? Having lived in Manuel Antonio for many years, I’ve seen my share of Jesus Christ Lizards. Recently, I spotted two males by our pool. The males are easy to identify by the distinctive high crests on their heads and backs. These crests serve to impress the ladies. I approached the first mail cautiously for a closer look. He quickly jumped in the pool and did his Jesus Christ thing. I had one of those “duh” moments and ran back for my video camera hoping the second male would still be there.

No worries. When I returned Jesus Christ lizard #2 stood at the edge of our pool about 20 feet beyond but before I could get any closer he jumped into the water on his hind legs and bolted for the other side. I’ll be better prepared next time. Watch the National Geographic video here.

Manuel Antonio is a perfect eco-vacation destination when you need to get away from stress, traffic and punching a time clock. There’s an abundance of costa rica vacation villas nestled into the rain forest. Their close proximity to Manuel Antonio National Park has the added benefit of frequent wildlife sightings for vacationers.

Imagine lying by the pool reading your book and witnessing a lizard walk on water! If that doesn’t make you forget your worries and laugh, it’s too late, you’re headed for a dirt nap.

I’m so grateful to be living in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica and grateful to be able to share one of its magical moments with you. Paradise Awaits!

 

Red-backed Squirrel Monkey

Red-backed Squirrel Monkey

Red-backed Squirrel Monkey, Saimiri oerstedii cilrinellus, Mono Titi

Mono Titis are endangered monkeys you'll see often on your beach vacation at Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.
Mono Titi

Distribution: Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica only.

Status and Habitat: This is the most threatened monkey in all of Central America. It is restricted to secondary growth of humid, Pacific slope forest. This subspecies has a gray face. Populations are protected in Manuel Antonio.

Habits: Large feeding groups of Red-backed Squirrel Monkeys create a flurry and are hard to miss. They forage by investigating every leaf, nook and cranny. Groups are active from shortly before dawn to dusk, with variable rest breaks during the day. They are often accompanied by mixed-species flocks of birds including Double-toothed Kites and Tawny-winged Woodcreepers, which hunt flying insects flushed out by the monkeys (Bronski and Scott, 1998). This species is arboreal, traveling with speed and agility at all levels of slender trees and lianas. Group size is normally 10-35. Females give birth to single young after a 7-month gestation. Births are usually during the wet season.

Calls: This monkey makes a variety of low-intensity calls including twitters, trills and chucks, and occasionally, louder yaps and squeals.

Nature Phenomenon – Rentals Near National Park in Costa Rica Get Monkey Visits!

Nature Phenomenon – Rentals Near National Park in Costa Rica Get Monkey Visits!

Titi monkey
Titi monkey

If you’re an animal-lover looking for an over-the-top nature experience, spend some time in a vacation rental home near Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica just a 10-minute drive from the town of Quepos on the Pacific coast. Iguanas, birds, sloths and many other animals can be found in this park known as the “Jewel of Costa Rica,” but its biggest draw is its 3 species of monkeys, the Mantled Howler, Red-backed Squirrel and White-faced Capuchin.

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