Carrara Biological Reserve


4,700 Ha.
Due to its emplacement as a transition zone between a drier region to the north and a more humid region to the south, Carara offers an incredible variety of plant life, especially evergreen species. Criss-crossed by several streams, most of which never dry up. the reserve stands out in the dry season like a fresh, green oasis.
In spite of its relatively small size, Carara is composed of several ecosystems such as marshland, a lagoon. and gallery, primary and secondary forests. The marshes are formed by the seasonal floods of the Grande de T�rcoles River in the northeastern region of the reserve. The marshes are especially rich in waterfowl and wading birds and in amphibians and reptiles native to this environment.
The lagoon covers a large. abandoned meander of the Grande de T�rcoles River. It measures 600 m. long. 40 m. wide and 2 m. deep and is U-shaped. It is almost entirely covered with water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) and other floating water plants. Clear water can only be seen in a few spots. The lagoon is also home to numerous species of amphibians and reptiles, such as the crocodile (Crocodylus acutus). which grows 3 meters long, and to several species of waterfowl, such as the roseate spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja). American anhinga (Anhinga anhinga), northern jacana Uacana spinosa). pied-billed grebe (Podilymbus podiceps). and Mexican tiger-bittern (Tigrisorna mexicanum). There are also numerous crocodiles which can be easily seen in the Grande de T�rcoles River.
The gallery forests grow along the banks of the rivers and are very tall and dense with little variety of species. Many of the trees have buttresses. The espave (Anacardium excelsum) is the most characteristic species in this habitat. The secondary forests cover terrain that was once used for agriculture and cattle ranching. There is less diversity here than in the mature forests and there are more deciduous species. The very thorny viscoyol palm (Bactris minor) can be found in this type of forest in predominantly unmixed groves.
Primary forests cover the largest portion of the reserve, They grow on slopes with a 20%-60% incline and they have a wide variety of species. several layers and a wealth of vines and epiphytic plants. Visitors are often amazed by the size of such trees as the espave. silk cotton (Ceiba pen tandra). wild fig (Ficus sp.). nargusta (Terminalia chiriquensis), quamwood (Shizolobium parahybum) which is covered with showy yellow flowers in the dry season, cotonron (Luehea seernannii). and possum-wood (Hura crepitans). Other tree species that grow here are the cow tree (Brosim urn utile), purple heart (Peltogyne purpurea) which produces an exquisite purple-colored wood, butternut tree (Caryocar costaricense). which is a rain forest species. rubber tree (Castila elastica), mora amarilla (Chlorophora tinctoria). Panama redwood (Platyrnisciurn pinna turn). banak (Virola sp.) and gonzalo alves (Astronium graveolens).
The wildlife is fairly abundant in spite of the reserve's isolated location. Some of the mammals that live in the reserve are the gray four-eyed opossum (Philander opossum). two toed sloth (Choloepus hoffrnanni), agouti (Dasyprocta punctata). kinkajou (Potos flavus), tayra (Eira barbara), margay cat (Felis wiedii), collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu), and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). A bird which is practically extinct in the Dry Pacific and which can be seen in Carara with its conspicuous plumage of red, yellow and blue is the scarlet macaw (Ara rnacao). Some other bird species that live in the reserve are the collared aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus), great tinamou (Tinamus major), American egret (Casrnerodius albus), tricolored heron (Egretta tricolor), turkey vulture (Catharres aura). laughing falcon (Herpetotheres cachinnans). gray-breasted martin (Progne chalybea). violaceous trogon (Trogon violaceus) and cayenne wood-rail (Ararnides cajanea).
Archeological remains have been found in the reserve especially on Lomas Carara where an Indian cemetery that covers 6 Ha. is located.

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Leatherback turtle baby heading for the sea

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