Home Costa Rica Tropical Marine Biology Field Trip: Manzanillo and Cahuita

Tropical Marine Biology Field Trip: Manzanillo and Cahuita

by Mackenzie Hudson

We finally had out first field trip for my Tropical Marine Biology course. Manzanillo and Cahuita are on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica and it was my first step into the Caribbean Ocean. We left Saturday morning and immediately went to the Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge to walk through the estuary, the beach, and the intertidal zone. I really liked how our teacher, Sonia, taught us all about the species we were going to see and how to identify them. So walking around in the shallow intertidal zone with coral and rocks it was cool to spot something I’ve learned about. We saw anemones, moray eels, brain coral, algae, sea urchins, sea eggs, different types of worms, small fish, and crabs. The day was beautiful and sunny but since the waves were rough we weren’t able to go snorkeling and hoped the next day would allow us to do so.

Sunday morning we got right up for breakfast in Cahuita and it was pouring. A little bummed, we knew already we wouldn’t be going snorkeling Sunday either. I threw my rain jacket on and we set off for a walk in the Cahuita National Park. This national park is different from others because there is not an entrance fee, at least for the locals. The locals go into the park to hunt and fish in order to eat. Since it would be unaffordable to the locals if every time they entered they had to pay a fee, the government set this park up differently. Ten minutes into the walk I was already soaked through my rain jacket. We had guides telling us about the park, its history, and showing us the animals that live there. We saw three-toed sloths, huge termite nests, a poisonous snake, and a few other animals. The rain continued to pound down on us, I actually thought it was never going to stop. At the end of the walk into the forest, we stopped and the guides cut up some fresh pineapple and watermelon right there for us. I don’t know what it was but even though we were soaking wet and walking through inches of mud, I was perfectly happy because the area was still so beautiful and serene and we were chowing down on some delicious fruit.

On the walk back, after getting through all the inches of mud, we walked through the ocean. It was a nice sensation; having been soaked from the cooler rain and walking through the warm water. Even though we weren’t able to snorkel the weekend was a lot of fun and we were able to apply what we had learned in class to what we saw in the ocean.

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