Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Inbio Parque

For 12-27-11, visit to Inbio Parque

Our first morning out, very early, we got all packed up, loaded on the bus, and off to the InbioParque, a research and education facility on the edge of San Jose. A good film to start us off, with some of the geo-history of Costa Rica, including the plate movement and volcanoes that closed the gap between the two future American continents to form Costa Rica and Panama—about 3 million years ago. The extreme environments and the land bridge between the two separate groups of plants and animals explain much of the region’s intense biodiversity. I.e., Costa Rica has about 0.030% of the earth’s land surface, but about 4% of the species, over 500,000, a lot for a tiny stretch of land the size of Virginia.

Another presentation told us more about the place’s specific work. Check this out at [for the research and educational mission] or [for visitor info].

And then we were off through the Parque’s representative environments—the dry forest, a wet forest, etc. The immediate hit was the small herd of white tail deer, all very tame, and a good deal less populous here than in Missouri. And we were introduced to the “Naked Indian” tree, which has green, chlorophyll-filled bark to utilize all the sun it can. Our guide talked about how a tiny wasp delivers a seed of the ficus, which slowly grows around a host tree and strangles it (though we learned later that this is slander against the poor ficus).

We also learned to identify the cecropia tree [which I remember so prominent on the landscape in the Amazon in Peru], and told to always check for sloths high in their branches.

We unfortunately progressed through the snake house and got to meet several of the local vipers. If you get close enough to one of these toxic coiled springs, you might see the different head shape, the cat-slit pupils…or, you could just notice how several are coiled on branches, ready to casually kill us all…I didn’t take any pictures there. Maybe someone else did.

The frogs in their terrarium were too well-hidden to find, and the caymans submerged in their gated pond. (Strange facts--due to global climate change, which isn't political here, but very directly observable, forgs worldwide are endangered, both from habitat shifts and a fungus which grows more readily on their skin in this altered climate; caymans tend to have a disproportion of males hatched now, creating more dangerous places where big males defend their territory; and turtles, whose gender is determined by temperature/depth of the eggs buried on beaches, now have an extreme disproportion of females.) But the butterfly house was fun. We learned there are 2,000 species of butterflies and 12,000 species of moths here—and they just don’t pose well for photos. I think I snapped a dozen blurred images of the spectacular blue butterflies, but nothing very sharp:
And off we rushed, headed north, through the odd edges of the global culture
And a much needed stop at a coffee shop overlooking the coffee field itself
And on, toward the Poas Volcano.

later, bob
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