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Tortuguero National Park

OVERVIEW

Tortuguero is the most important area of the Caribbean Midwest where the green tortoises (chelonian Mydas) come to lay their eggs. Other species of sea tortoises that also lay eggs along the canal of the park are Carey and Baula. The green tortoise is of medium size, with long fins that can reach up to one meter long; adult green tortoise can weight from 75 to 200 kg. It is an herbivorous animal. A characteristic of these tortoises is that they travel in large groups to mate in places away from their regular feeding areas.

The topography of the Park consists of a large alluvial swamp, formed by the union of deltas that flooded part of the ancient canals of Nicaragua.  The alluvial plains are only broken in the west by the 300 meters height Sierpe peak that resulted from the remains of a small archipelago of volcanic source that used to exist in the area. The plains correspond to quaternaries alluvial deposits formed during the last millions of years.

Tortuguero, is one of the rainiest regions of the country (between 5000- 6000 mm. year) and it is one of the wild areas that shelter the biggest biological variety of the nation. 11 habitats where identified so far in the park.  The forest is the most important area of the coastline where coco palms are abundant (Coco Nucifera) and plants such as the berma (Gramineos and Cyperaceous), as well as  Santa Maria (Calophyllum Brasiliense). The  swamp forest main plants are the wild Tamarind, Cativo (Prioria copaifera ), and the black palm (Astrocaryum Stadleyanum ); the forest of  holillo is mostly formed almost exclusively by the Palm of Holillo (Raphia Taedigera);swamps of herbaceous plants that grow up to two 2 meters high, among those are: Palm of Suita (AsterogyneMartiana); y Portorrico (Cyclanthus sp.) as well as communities of aquatic plants, specially the Water Jacinth, (Enchorial Crassipes),  Ferns (Salvinia Sprucei) and the  Hidrocotile Mexican. The water Jacinth develop so profusely that can make difficult the passage of boats.

There is a large quantity and variety of fauna, especially monkeys, fish, anuran amphibious (60 species identified) and birds (300 species). Some of the mammals that inhabit the park are: Danta (Tapirus Bairdii), Jaguar (FelisOnca), Ocelot (Felis Pardales), Saíno (Tayassu tajacu), River Nutria (Lutra longicaudus), Three- finger sloth’s (Bradypus Variegatus), Paca (Agouti Paca), and Whiteface monkey (Cebus Capucinus), Spider monkey (Ateles Geoffroyi), Howling Monkey (Alovatta Palian).

Some of the anura (frogs) that live in the park are: Smoking frog (Leptodactylus, Pentadactylus) quite abundant in the brooks of the park, Glass Frog (Centrolenella Valerioi) their interior organs can be seen through its see-trough skin, Poison- Dart Frog (Dendrobates Pumilio) of poisonous skin. Among the birds that are protected in the park are: the Green Guacamayo (Ara Ambigua), Graitel Guaco (Crac Rubra), Vulture (Cathartes Aura), Common Black Falcon (Buteogallus Anthracinus), White-collar Jacobin (Florisuga Mellivora), Montezuma’s Oropéndola (Psarocolius Montezuma). Spectacular migrations of birds that nets in the coasts of North America can be seen during the whole year in this area.

A scenic natural channel and navigable river mouths form the park from the southwest to the northeast. These river ways and swamps are the habitat of y species of land tortoises, which can be seen taking the sun on logs floating in the water or in the floating islands formed by vegetation. The canals also provide shelter to the Oriental Indian Manatee (Trichechus Manatus), a species in danger of extinction. Crocodiles (Crocodylus Acutus), a large variety of crustaceous and about 30 species of sweet water fish, even the  Gaspar (Atractosteus Tropicus), Considered as living fossil, Angila (Ophichthus sp.), and the Bull Shark  (Carchahinus Leucas) that can reach 3 meters of length.

Those channels are an excellent observation location to catch sight of the different species of aquatic birds.