Tripping on Costa Rica’s Biodiversity

The Central American County Is Teeming with Life

A coati and bicolored antbird are just two of countless species that inhabit Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park. | Credit: Chuck Graham

The rainforest floor of Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica was teeming, rolling, always in motion. At first, we couldn’t make out what we were looking at. The ground was muddy with brown, fallen leaves darkened by the oncoming evening. Then there was a flash of white and baby blue. Our guide informed us it was a bicolored antbird dive-bombing into thousands upon thousands of army ants.

The Corcovado became a national park in 1974 and is one of the most biologically intense places on earth. I recently teamed up with Holly Lohuis to explore it. For the past 24 years, Lohuis has worked as a marine biologist and educator for Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Santa Barbara–based nonprofit, the Ocean Future’s Society.

Lohuis has been on 12 expeditions to far-flung places, such as the Amazon, Fiji, the Arctic region, and the Northwestern Pacific Isles. Plastic pollution is almost always a problem, and during our trip, king tides on deserted beaches left a depressing reminder of the world’s dependency on plastics. However, Lohuis pointed out, “Costa Rica has pledged to ban single-use plastics by 2021. It’s a very ambitious goal, and it’s a goal we can all strive for.”

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