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Tortuguero National Park

The Tortuguero National park is situated on the Caribbean coast, in the province of Limon, approximately 80 km to the Northeast of the eponymous city. It was Tortuguero Nacional Parkestablished by the law no. 5680 of November 17, 1975 and comprises an area of  18.946.9 terrestrial hectares and 52.265 maritime hectares.
 
For the green turtles this is the most important area of the whole Western Caribbean part to lay their eggs. Other maritime turtle species, which as well lay their eggs on the beach, are the baula turtle and the hawksbill turtle.

The park is interspersed with a natural lagoon system and navigable Canals of great scenic beauty. These waters are the habitat of different terrestrial turtle species, of the manatee, the crocodile, a great variety of crustacea and of about 52 freshwater-fish species.

It was created in order to protect the region’s flora and fauna, and to facilitate investigations, scientific studies and to promote the environmental education.

There are three habitats: the very humid tropical forest, the predominantly humid forest and the humid tropical forest. It includes eight types of major associations (trees, shrubs and herbs) and three minor associations (herbs in its major part).

The coastal area’s vegetation mainly consists of herbal plants, humid forests with an abundance of Tortuguero Nacional Parkssediment formations and forests with a lot of underwoods, characterized by ferns, the white palm tree, different species of anonaceas, forests on hilltops, small palm trees (mainly the yolillo palm tree), localized in the park’s central sector, swamps composed of herbal plants, which are up to 2 meters high and herbal communities in lagoons with floating vegetation, as for example the water lily; these are some of the park’s most common botanical groups.

Tortuguero is one of the country’s rainiest areas, with a rainfall of between 5.000 and 6.000 mm per year. There are two types of rain: the local downpours of short duration, which are more frequent, and the characteristic Caribbean rainstorms, which extend up to 15 days. They are caused by the Northern and Northwestern trade winds.

The most characteristic species of flora are:  the cedar, the sparrowhawk, the “pilón”, the black “javillo”, different types of fruit, the manul, pot, the camphor, the “canfín”, the “cativo”, the yolillo palm tree, the suita palm tree, the royal palm tree and Tortuguero Nacional Parks the water lily. The water lily sometimes forms such a compact mass, that it can obstruct navigation.

The fauna is rich and diverse. Some of the most common species are for example the tapir, the ocelot, the jaguar, the saíno (a special pig), the white-faced ape, the colored ape, the sloth, the “tepescuinte”, the coati, the raccoon, the “martilla”, the otter, the “tolomuco”, the fishing bat, which is one of the biggest ones in the whole country and subsists of fish, capturing it with its strong legs and nails, when it flies over the water’s surface; the bullfrog, the glass frog, whose internal organs can be seen through its transparent skin; the poisonous frog (or red toad), whose skin is toxic.

Some of the protected birds are for example the green limpet, species in danger of extinction, the peacock, the red-headed vulture, the crab-eating sparrowhawk, the violet “trogon” and the golden oriole of Montezuma. Apart from this you’ll find the “baula” turtle, the green and the hawksbill turtle; the black turtle is very common in the Canals from Moín to Tortuguero.

 

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