Costa Rica '11 

The 2011 trip ran from May10 to May 31.   The text below was (mostly) written and updated "live" from the field.  There is also a facebook page at Marietta College Biology and Environmental Science Department. Eventually the material will be added to our other Costa Rica Pages.

  Scroll Down for pictures and text.




Sunset at Tortuguero


Final Update: The class arrived back in Pittsburg on May 31 to the news that Marietta had won its (5th) National Title in Baseball. A great end to a great trip. This page will be updated as I work through the roughly 8,000 image files (113 GB) taken over 3 weeks. Other pictures will be worked into the main Costa Rica Pages.


Sunday May 29th was a full day. We went snorkeling all morning and hiking all afternoon in Cahuita National Park. We head for San Jose on the 8AM bus tomorrow, then back to the US and Pittsburg early Tuesday:


Arrow Crab

MaLisa's hand, again for scale.



Sunset at Tortuguero.





May 22-25 - El Zota Biological Field Station

This great little field station up by the Nicaraguan border in eastern Costa Rica is a lot of fun. We stayed here in 2009. Our contact is Israel Mesen, who is a really great guy who helps us with a lot of the logistics of travel. The station is owned by Hiner Ramirez, who always shows us a good time - and this time he outdid himself. We were also fortunate this time to meet more of Hiner's family as well as a herpetologist, Tom LaDuke, who helped set the station up.

harlequin beetle

In keeping with our invertebrate comparable in size to MaLisa's hand theme, we offer you the Harlequin Beetle (Acrocinus longimanus), one of the largest insects in the world, at least measured by legspan. This is an adult male.


 Acrocinus longimanus


He tries his tarsi at photography...

 Acrocinus longimanus

He was about 7cm long.

rhinoceros beetle

Here we present a female Rhinoceros Beetle, MaLisa's hand for scale.


Rhinoceros Beetle

And here the female is joined by the male of another species. Both were attracted to lights at the field station (which just got electricity a few weeks ago).

Oophaga pumilio


Above - Strawberry Poison Dart Frog ( Oophaga pumilio)


Agalychnis callidryas

The Red-eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas)


Paraponera clavata

The Bullet Ant ( Paraponera clavata). Note the stinger, which gives the ant its name.

ant mimic

Look closely - this is a spider, not an ant! It looks remarkably like the bullet ant, a fact that probably gives it some protection from predators who don't want to mess with the formidable ants.



A Conehead Katydid. These have a painful bite.



A Nightjar, with babies.



Two Fruit Bats under palm trees at the station entrance.


It's not all amazing wildlife. The students performed a second transect in the secondary tropical rainforest at the station. With the data they collected on tree density, size, light and temperature, they will be able to compare both tropical rainforest and tropical dry forest, as well as make comparisons to earlier years.




Great Green Macaws at El Zota





May 20-22 - Volcan Arenal

We stayed in the town of La Fortuna, which lies in the shadow of Volcan Arenal, an active volcano that is still growing. While we were there we heard several eruptions, but couldn't see much as the top was shrouded in clouds most of the time. We did hike on the lava flows from the 1968 eruption and looked at the regeneration of the forest that has occurred since. We also hike down to a catarata and swam in the pool at the base of the waterfall. Not as blue as the waterfall at Tenorio, but more refreshing since you are actually allowed to swim here.

Sorry, no pictures. All of the pictures from this segment are still on a camera waiting to be downloaded.





May 19-20 - Volcan Tenorio

The Costa Rica field trip has never visited this small national park before. We should have. We stayed at some cabinas in a field 1km from the park at Rio Celeste, then went into the park on the morning of the 20th. It was not a long hike, only about 6 km, but it was amazing - waterfalls into pools of water stained blue by dissolved minerals, hot springs, a river with deep blue pools, and a wide variety of wildlife.


Above - the cabinas where we stayed.


Tonorio pool

The class in front of the waterfall. Note the blue color of the water.






May 16-19 - Monteverde and Santa Elena

From Guanacaste we have moved up to Santa Elena and nearby Monteverde. Here we are at about 4,000 feet elevation. It is cooler, and, in theory at least, moister since we are in a cloud forest, but it has been very dry, Volcan Tenorio was fantastic. We're in La Fortuna now, albeit with slow internet. On the 17th we hiked the famous cloud forest reserve at Monteverde.


Meeting with a native of Monteverde to get a local perspective on the impact tourism is having on the local ecosystem.


The day's food group shopping for breakfast and lunch for the subsequent day.

continental divide

The whole group on a platform just west of the continental divide in the Monteverde Preserve.


night hike

Night hike in Monteverde. Our guide, Fabricio, points out some of the wildlife that comes out only at night.


A large predatory snail found in Monteverde on our night hike. This snail eats other snails. MaLisa's hand for scale.





May 12-16 - Guanacaste

We were in the dry Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica for 4 days. During that time we explored Santa Rosa National Park, climbed the active volcano Rincon de la Vieja, and explored the beach at Bahia Jobo. We stayed in the small northern town of La Cruz, with visits to the northern city of Liberia.


Above: Sunset at La Cruz from a point only 25 yards from our hotel. The sun is setting over the Pacific.


Doing a transect in the tropical dry forest at Santa Rosa National Park. A transect is a series of biological measurements taken along a line. The students measured tree and canopy density, as well as tree size, light and temperature. These readings will be repeated at a lowland tropical rainforest. We have made measurements at this site in 2005, 2007, 2009, and now 2011,


View of Rincon de la Vieja from Santa Rosa. This active volcano is 1895 meters (over 6200 feet) high. We will climb it the next day.

rincon top

View from 1 mile up on Rincon (it was cloudy at the top). The first bright area you see on the horizon is a geothermal plant near the park entrance. We hiked up from there, a distance of 8km and an elevation change of several thousand feet.

rincon tree

Posing by a large tree on the way up.

rincon elfin forest

Elfin forest at the treeline on Rincon de la Vieja. We took the trail straight ahead, which pretty much went straight up.


Lunch above treeline on Rincon de la Vieja, We stopped to eat lunch just below the summit ridge, which was cloud-covered and windy.

Poza Rio Blanco

Poza Rio Blanco. A stop for a refreshing swim after hiking the volcano.

Rincon Profile

Profile of our hike, The miles scale is a bit misleading, as it comes from a GPS track that included a lot of driving. From the time we got out of the van we hiked 4.6 miles to the high point at 5386 feet (then back down). We went the 4.6 miles from the ranger station to the high point in 3 hours, 40 minutes - a little over 1 mph (but almost straight up in places). Round trip was 6 hrs 25 minutes back down to Poza Rio Blanco.


The final reward of the day - ice cream at the Heladaria in Liberia!



On our last day in Guanacaste we drove down from La Cruz to the beach at Playa Rajada (or Bahia Jobo - the maps do not agree).




In addition to swimming, there was the beach, a mangrove swamp and tide pools to explore.




A local couple brought their children and their two Golden Retrievers to the beach. Here, one of the students makes friends with Suzy.


Sunset on the beach.
















May 11, 2011 - San Jose, Costa Rica

Today was our first full day in Costa Rica. We started at 7:30 with breakfast at the Hotel Doña Inez.



After breakfast, we headed out to change money, then returned to the hotel to get ready for our first real activities of the trip. We walked around the central part of San Jose, learning a bit about some of the flora and fauna in the country in several very nice small city parks,




Our next stop was the National Museum of Costa Rica, nicely remodeled since our last visit. The new entrance is next to a spectacular butterfly exhibit. The image below is of a Blue Morpho butterfly, a species common in the rainforests and cloud forests here.


The butterflies lay eggs on the plants growing in the exhibit and the caterpillars then proceed to eat the plants and eventually develop into butterflies themselves. I'm not sure which caterpillar this is:


In addition, the museum is full of historical and anthropological exhibits, but my camera battery died.

After the museum we had lunch at a small soda (restaurant) attached to the Artisan's Market. Back to the hotel for a short siesta then off to the center of San Jose and the Mercado Central, home to innumerable shops selling items of all descriptions, from raw fish to boots. There are also a number of small restaurants inside and we had dinner there.



One of the most fun parts of travelling is discovering the local food. Here Kiki tries chan, a local drink made from the seeds of a plant in the mint family.

Finally, back out into the street at dusk (6 PM).

san jose




  planning meeting

Planning Meeting; April, 2011

Emergency Contact - Marietta College Police - (740) 376-4611




2009 Costa Rica Field Trip

2007 Costa Rica Field Trip

12 students and 2 professors spent 3 weeks in Costa Rica early this summer.  The group toured much of the country, including beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, and saw habitats including coral reefs, two active volcanoes, several rainforests, a cloud forest and a tropical dry forest.  

A web site with pictures from both the 2007 trip and the previous, 2005 trip is under construction at:

Stop by regularly as the site is being updated as we work our way through about 15,000 pictures we took there.

Field Trips

Updated 10/16/09 by DMC