Friday, August 19, 2011

Back in Mastatal after a week on the coast!

Hola! We are back in the farming village of Mastatal, Costa Rica after a whirlwind visit to the Pacific coast. We spent some days at Hacienda Baru, a private nature reserve near Dominical, where the class explored the mangroves and other coastal habitats with staff naturalists. We also spent time with naturalists in Manuel Antonio Natural Park as well as some mangrove islands further north - all teeming with monkeys, sloths, and other wildlife. Finally, we had the opportunity to participate in night beach patrols, looking for nesting sea turtles - several groups had the good fortune of witnessing the ancient ritual of Olive Ridleys crawling up onto the beach in the dead of night and laying their eggs!

Students are busy wrapping up their research projects - they'll be giving final presentations tomorrow afternoon in the outdoor classroom here at Rancho Mastatal - then it will be back to the San Jose area to return home and/or continue travels elsewhere!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Greetings from Mastatal!

Hello from Costa Rica! Erica Cline and I are in a rural farming village in Costa Rica with 13 students on a UW Tacoma study-abroad course. We left the San Jose area a few days ago, and all are now immersed in life in a remote village, with students fully engaged in their independent research projects, which form the core of this study abroad experience. Projects span a range of mostly ecological studies, including exploring the effects of roads and landscape use on stream macroinvertebrate biodiversity and sediments, poison dart frog behavior, hummingbird foraging, butterfly diversity, fungal pathogen dynamics in cacao plantations, and the antibiotic properties of medicinal plants found here in the rainforest. The group will be here for another week or so before heading to the coast to explore mangrove and other habitats there, before returning back to the village. More posts and updates to come!