Howler Monkeys and Glass Frogs in Costa Rica

Kaitlyn WelzenA number of students will be dropping us notes from around the world as they participate in Ripon College’s Liberal Arts In Focus program at the start of this summer. Kaitlyn Welzen ‘15 is an environmental studies and Spanish double-major with a minor in sociology. She writes to us from Costa Rica where she is taking “Exploring Sustainability and Development in Costa Rica” with professors Diane Beres and Soren Hauge.

¡Hola! Here in Costa Rica we have been learning about sustainability and economic development. After flying into Alejuela, near the Costa Rican capital of San José, we drove to the Tirimbina Rain Forest Center’s field station.

Tirimbina RainforestThe first thing we saw when we arrived was a troop of howler monkeys in the trees right next to where we are staying. It was incredible to watch them high up in the tree tops slowly moving from branch to branch and occasionally making the sounds they are famous for: loud “howls” that carry across the forest.

Our guide, Alexa, explained that howler monkeys make these noises as a group to signal to other troops where they are so that the groups can avoid conflict with one another in their search for food. It was a truly unique experience to be able to see those monkeys up-close in their natural habitat.

A Caiman in the Tirimbina Reserve

A Caiman in the Tirimbina Reserve

The other highlight from our time at the Tirimbina Reserve was the night hike we took to see herpetofauna, which are amphibians and reptiles. We saw an amazing variety of frogs, a caiman, sleeping bats, and insects.

My favorite type of frog was the glass frogs that our local guide, Lenin, found by the river that runs through the reserve. Glass frogs are partially translucent, so we could see some of the internal organs of the frog. They were small but truly incredible. Overall, our time in Tirimbina was filled with fauna and flora that we were incredibly lucky to see and it was a fantastic experience.


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