Tortuguero National Park
Overview
 
Tortuguero National Park is a National Park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

 within the Tortuguero Conservation Area
Tortuguero Conservation Area
Tortuguero Conservation Area is an administrative area which is managed by SINAC for the purposes of conservation in the northeastern part of Costa Rica...

. The reserve is also included in the Humedal Caribe Noreste, a wetland
Wetland
A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are categorised by their characteristic vegetation, which is adapted to these unique soil conditions....

 of international importance under the Ramsar Convention
Ramsar Convention
The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, i.e., to stem the progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands now and in the future, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural,...

. The park is located in the Limón Province
Limón Province
Limón is one of seven provinces in Costa Rica. The majority of its territory is situated in the country's Caribbean lowlands, though the southwestern portion houses part of an extensive mountain range known as the Cordillera de Talamanca...

 of northeastern Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

. It is the third-most visited park in Costa Rica, despite the fact that it can be reached only by airplane or boat
Boat
A boat is a watercraft of any size designed to float or plane, to provide passage across water. Usually this water will be inland or in protected coastal areas. However, boats such as the whaleboat were designed to be operated from a ship in an offshore environment. In naval terms, a boat is a...

.

The park has incredible biological variety, due to the existence within the reserve of eleven different habitat
Habitat (ecology)
A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant or other type of organism...

s, including rainforest
Rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

, swamp
Swamp
A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. The two main types of swamp are "true" or swamp...

s, beach
Beach
A beach is a geological landform along the shoreline of an ocean, sea, lake or river. It usually consists of loose particles which are often composed of rock, such as sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles or cobblestones...

es, and lagoon
Lagoon
A lagoon is a body of shallow sea water or brackish water separated from the sea by some form of barrier. The EU's habitat directive defines lagoons as "expanses of shallow coastal salt water, of varying salinity or water volume, wholly or partially separated from the sea by sand banks or shingle,...

s.
Encyclopedia
Tortuguero National Park is a National Park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

 within the Tortuguero Conservation Area
Tortuguero Conservation Area
Tortuguero Conservation Area is an administrative area which is managed by SINAC for the purposes of conservation in the northeastern part of Costa Rica...

. The reserve is also included in the Humedal Caribe Noreste, a wetland
Wetland
A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are categorised by their characteristic vegetation, which is adapted to these unique soil conditions....

 of international importance under the Ramsar Convention
Ramsar Convention
The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, i.e., to stem the progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands now and in the future, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural,...

. The park is located in the Limón Province
Limón Province
Limón is one of seven provinces in Costa Rica. The majority of its territory is situated in the country's Caribbean lowlands, though the southwestern portion houses part of an extensive mountain range known as the Cordillera de Talamanca...

 of northeastern Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

. It is the third-most visited park in Costa Rica, despite the fact that it can be reached only by airplane or boat
Boat
A boat is a watercraft of any size designed to float or plane, to provide passage across water. Usually this water will be inland or in protected coastal areas. However, boats such as the whaleboat were designed to be operated from a ship in an offshore environment. In naval terms, a boat is a...

.

The park has incredible biological variety, due to the existence within the reserve of eleven different habitat
Habitat (ecology)
A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant or other type of organism...

s, including rainforest
Rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

, swamp
Swamp
A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. The two main types of swamp are "true" or swamp...

s, beach
Beach
A beach is a geological landform along the shoreline of an ocean, sea, lake or river. It usually consists of loose particles which are often composed of rock, such as sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles or cobblestones...

es, and lagoon
Lagoon
A lagoon is a body of shallow sea water or brackish water separated from the sea by some form of barrier. The EU's habitat directive defines lagoons as "expanses of shallow coastal salt water, of varying salinity or water volume, wholly or partially separated from the sea by sand banks or shingle,...

s. It is located in a tropical climate
Tropical climate
A tropical climate is a climate of the tropics. In the Köppen climate classification it is a non-arid climate in which all twelve months have mean temperatures above...

, is very humid, and receives up to 250 inches (6,350 mm) of rain a year.

Geography

The park is located on the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 coast of Costa Rica, and its beaches are key nest
Nest
A nest is a place of refuge to hold an animal's eggs or provide a place to live or raise offspring. They are usually made of some organic material such as twigs, grass, and leaves; or may simply be a depression in the ground, or a hole in a tree, rock or building...

ing ground for endangered sea turtle
Sea turtle
Sea turtles are marine reptiles that inhabit all of the world's oceans except the Arctic.-Distribution:...

s, such as Hawksbill
Hawksbill turtle
The hawksbill sea turtle is a critically endangered sea turtle belonging to the family Cheloniidae. It is the only extant species in its genus. The species has a worldwide distribution, with Atlantic and Pacific subspecies. E. imbricata imbricata is the Atlantic subspecies, while E...

, Loggerheads
Loggerhead Sea Turtle
The loggerhead sea turtle , or loggerhead, is an oceanic turtle distributed throughout the world. It is a marine reptile, belonging to the family Cheloniidae. The average loggerhead measures around long when fully grown, although larger specimens of up to have been discovered...

, Green
Green Sea Turtle
The Green sea turtle or green turtle is a large sea turtle of the family Cheloniidae. It is the only species in the genus Chelonia. Its range extends throughout tropical and subtropical seas around the world, with two distinct populations in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans...

 and Leatherbacks. The rivers within the park are home to sensitive populations of manatee
Manatee
Manatees are large, fully aquatic, mostly herbivorous marine mammals sometimes known as sea cows...

s, as well as caiman
Caiman
Caimans are alligatorid crocodylians within the subfamily Caimaninae. The group is one of two subfamilies of the family Alligatoridae, the other being alligators. Caimans inhabit Central and South America. They are relatively small crocodilians, with most species reaching lengths of only a few...

s, crocodile
American Crocodile
The American crocodile is a species of crocodilian found in the Neotropics. It is the most widespread of the four extant species of crocodiles from the Americas. Populations occur from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of southern Mexico to South America as far as Peru and Venezuela. It also lives...

s, and Tropical Gar
Tropical Gar
The tropical gar, Atractosteus tropicus, is a fish found in freshwaters from southern Mexico to Costa Rica, reported to reach lengths of up to 1.5 m in the wild . The tropical gar looks very similar to the longnose gar in color and markings, but can be distinguished by its shorter, broader snout...

, which is considered a living fossil
Living fossil
Living fossil is an informal term for any living species which appears similar to a species otherwise only known from fossils and which has no close living relatives, or a group of organisms which have long fossil records...

. The forests are home to jaguar
Jaguar
The jaguar is a big cat, a feline in the Panthera genus, and is the only Panthera species found in the Americas. The jaguar is the third-largest feline after the tiger and the lion, and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. The jaguar's present range extends from Southern United States and Mexico...

s, three-toed sloths, and three of Costa Rica's four species of monkey: Geoffroy's Spider Monkey
Geoffroy's Spider Monkey
Geoffroy's spider monkey, Ateles geoffroyi, also known as black-handed spider monkey, is a species of spider monkey, a type of New World monkey, from Central America, parts of Mexico and possibly a small portion of Colombia. There are at least five subspecies. Some primatologists classify the...

, the Mantled Howler
Mantled Howler
The mantled howler , or golden-mantled howling monkey, is a species of howler monkey, a type of New World monkey, from Central and South America. It is one of the monkey species most often seen and heard in the wild in Central America...

, and the White-headed Capuchin
White-headed Capuchin
The white-headed capuchin , also known as the white-faced capuchin or white-throated capuchin, is a medium-sized New World monkey of the family Cebidae, subfamily Cebinae...

. Basilisk lizards and poisonous frogs also inhabit the area, along with 375 species of birds, including kingfisher
Kingfisher
Kingfishers are a group of small to medium sized brightly coloured birds in the order Coraciiformes. They have a cosmopolitan distribution, with most species being found in the Old World and Australia...

s, toucan
Toucan
Toucans are members of the family Ramphastidae of near passerine birds from the Neotropics. The family is most closely related to the American barbets. They are brightly marked and have large, often colorful bills. The family includes five genera and about forty different species...

s, blue heron
Blue heron
Blue heron can refer to:* Little Blue Heron, a small heron* Great Blue Heron, a large wading bird* Blue Heron Lake, Canada* Great Blue Heron Casino, Canada* Blue Heron Estate, Alberta* Blue Heron, Kentucky* Blue Heron Park Preserve, New York City...

s, peacocks, and parrot
Parrot
Parrots, also known as psittacines , are birds of the roughly 372 species in 86 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three families: the Psittacidae , the Cacatuidae and the Strigopidae...

s. There are more than 400 species of trees and approximately 2,200 species of other plants.

Swaths of the Park have been illegally clearcut, which damage also allows access to habitat of the endangered Green sea turtle.

The park entrance is accessible from the Cuatro Esquinas center in the village of Tortuguero, in the northern part of the park. A number of trails depart from this point — three aquatic trails and one hiking trail. The hiking trail is called the Gavilan Trail and is 1920 meters long. The three water trails are the Harold (most popular), Mora, and Chiquero. The Sector Jalova Station is further south near Jalova Lagoon and the town of Parismina
Parismina
Barra del Parismina is a village of about 600 people located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, at the mouth of the Reventazón River. Parismina is about half way between Tortuguero and Limon on the Tortuguero canals. There is no road to Parismina; it is accessible only by boat or plane...

. Aguas Frias Station is on the western edge close to the town of Cariari.

North of the park is the smaller Dr. Archie Carr Wildlife Refuge
Dr. Archie Carr Wildlife Refuge
Dr. Archie Carr Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife refuge located within the Tortuguero Conservation Area, in the Limón Province of northeastern Costa Rica. The refuge is located north of the village of Tortuguero, between the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge and the Tortuguero National Park. It is...

 and then the Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge
Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge
Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge is a Wildlife refuge, part of the Tortuguero Conservation Area, in Limón Province in the northeastern part of Costa Rica...

. The latter refuge contains habitats similar to those found in Tortuguero National Park, although much of that refuge is even less accessible. To the south the park is bordered by the Parismina River
Reventazón River
The Reventazón River or Rio Reventazón, is a river in Costa Rica which forms part of the Reventazón-Parismina drainage basin, it is 145 km long and flows into the Caribbean sea. It rises in Meseta Central and flows through the Orosí, Reventazón and Turrialba Valleys...

 and the Cariari National Wetlands
Cariari National Wetlands
Cariari National Wetlands is a Nature reserve, part of both the Tortuguero and Caribbean La Amistad Conservation Areas, in the Limón Province of northeastern Costa Rica. It protects mangroves and marine areas on the Caribbean coast. It covers all of the coast from the Tortuguero National Park to...

. The park has worked with the neighboring village of Tortuguero to help its inhabitants understand that preserving their natural resources is the key to burgeoning eco-tourism.

External links

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