Day 7 |
Sep 27, 2009

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

By Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 09° 59 4`N, 83° 01 45`W

Weather: cloudy with rain showers

Tonight we put our watches one hour back, a very favorable time change after the Karaoke night in the Panorama Lounge. The morning on the Prince Albert II was quite calm. The onboard program this morning consisted of two lecturers, one at 10:00 am and the other at 11:30 am. In the first one, my colleague Claire Allum presented the live history of Henry Morgan, a well known “privateer” in the 17th century in the Caribbean and also known for his sack of Panama City in 1671. The second lecture was mainly a talk by my colleague JJ about his home country Costa Rica.

At 1:00 pm the Prince Albert II was alongside in the port of Puerto Limon. The local authorities came onboard and soon afterwards the ship was cleared and we could start our excursion to the sloth sanctuary. And, as in Jamaica, our first contact with Costa Rica started with a tropical downpour. But once sitting in the bus and driving to the sanctuary, the rainfall ceased and our guests didn’t need their raincoats anymore until the end of the excursion.

To the sanctuary it is a 30 minutes drive along the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica. Our bus passed the outskirts of Puerto Limon, with its wood or tin huts, then the never used (or only about 20 years ago used) airport appeared on the left hand side and soon after this the long stretch of sandy beaches came into sight. The half an hour very quickly passed because of the good interpretations given to our guests from our local guide Vicky.

At the sloth sanctuary we first saw a short informative movie on sloth and on the history of the station. From the room where the movie was shown one could see the first sloths hanging around in the nearby trees and enjoying their new life after rehabilitation from an accident. After the video the sloth star “Sissy” was presented to our guests and everyone could take pictures with her. From the left or from the right, with or without a person Sissy was very patient and her attitude was that pretty much of a sloth, just hanging on the neck of her owner.

Then we split the guest into two groups. One group went with canoes on a river tour and the other one did a hike into the nearby forest. Both activities lasted for about one hour. The walk again with Vicky was a good introduction to the ecosystem of the tropical forest. There our guests were able to see lianas, epiphytes, buttress roots, hemiepiphytes and some of the most common trees of the Central American forest. Additionally the bird life in this patch of forest was good and guests together with my colleague JJ could identify some 15 different species. Of course during the walk we also saw two sloths and heard the howler monkeys.

On the following boat trip we were really lucky, when we saw just over our heads in a tree a Basilisk (a male with its beautiful “helmet”) lying on a twig. He was so confident in his camouflage, that we were able to approach him at five feet distance. Birds species like, the yellow crowned night heron, the green heron, great chickadee, king fly catcher, black Hawk grooved bill Ani and an Oriol completed the picture of the tropical forest on our first day here in Costa Rica. Coming back to the station a final highlight was the presentation of young sloths, just some weeks or months old.

On the way back to the ship Vicky supplied us with sweet and very tasty Costa Rican bananas, like an appetizer to our dinner on the Prince Albert II, which was awaiting our guests in the in The Restaurant after an exciting first day in this Central American country.