Find out more about conservation areas in Costa Rica

Location and General Description

In the Tortuguero National Park and its buffer zone the humid tropical forest predominates. The average annual rainfall reaches 6,000 mm. The months of greatest precipitation correspond to July and December, the least rainy are March, April and October. The average annual temperature ranges between 25 °C and 30 °C. The heat, the humidity and the rain are companions in the route.

Characteristics

Covering the lowlands of the Caribbean, mainly in the elevation of over 500 m., From southern Nicaragua, including northern Costa Rica and most of the Panamanian Caribbean, wet forests represent the epitome of humid and tropical forest. This forest ecoregion evolved from unique combinations of North American and South American flora and fauna, which met with the union of these continents 3 million years ago (Rich and Rich 1983). The resulting mixture has produced one of the richest and most diverse associations of plants and animals of any area of comparable size (Raven 1985). At present, a large part of this ecoregion has become subsistence and commercial agriculture.

Ecological Importance

  • Protects beaches for the spawning of 4 species of sea turtles: Green (Chelonia mydas), Baula (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Cabezona (Caretta caretta).
  • Protects important populations of endangered species.
  • Protects the habitat of the manatee (Trichechus manatus), which is one of the scarce and most threatened mammals in Costa Rica.
  • Protects the habitat of the largest of the felines in America. Tortuguero has one of the largest populations in Costa Rica and a consolidated research program.
  • Protects the ecosystem called Yolillal (Raphia taedigera).

Biodiversity

Flora and fauna (identified to the present):

  • 734 plant species.
  • 442 species of birds.
  • 138 species of mammals (101 genera and 32 families).
  • 118 reptile species (76 genera and 22 families).
  • 58 amphibian species (27 genera and 11 families).
  • 460 species of arthropods.

 

Featured Species:

  • Green turtle (Chelonia mydas): One of the initial reasons for the creation of the NTP is that this species has Tortuguero as one of the main spawning beaches in the world.
  • Green macaw (Ara ambigua): A species of bird in danger of extinction that has been recovering its population with Tortuguero as one of the main nesting and feeding sites.
  • Caiman (Caiman cocodilus): Species present along the Tortuguero canals, it is sometimes possible to observe it while sunbathing.
  • Black turtle (Rhinoclemmys funerea): One of the Tortuguero river species. In the channels you can get to see several in the same trunk.
  • Jacana (Jacana jacana): One of the most colorful species of birds present in the Tortuguero canals.
  • Needle duck (Anhinga anhinga): Bird characteristic of the Tortuguero canals, it can be observed on branches drying its wings after submerging to hunt.

Tortuguero Protective Zone

It has 13,000 ha and consists mostly of yolillales, associations on flooded soils in which the yolillo palm (Raphia taedigera) is dominant and very rainy forests, which are dominated by species such as cedar (Carapa guianensis) and golden fruit (Virola koschmyi). It forms part, together with the other protected areas of the area, of the SI-A-PAZ Costa Rica – Nicaragua Project, which is one of the most important links in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. You can go along the rivers that flow into the Tortuguero canals.

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