This is a Costa Rican crocodile. We saw it during our visit to Costa Rica. But, first things first!
Costa Rica is a small state in Central America. It got its name directly from Christopher Columbus. They say that when Columbus came ashore and met the Indian, whose clothing was completely covered in gold, he decided that since the locals walk with such clothes on the beach there definitely was a huge treasure to be found. The newly discovered land was named - "Rich Coast" or "Costa Rica" in Spanish. After telling this story, our guide emotionally added: "No, he was wrong!".
Nevertheless, Costa Rica has its treasure . . . nature. In particular, one of the unique features is the large number of volcanoes. Moreover, Costa Rica is the first among neighboring countries in terms of the number of active volcanoes. Its neighbors are Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Accordingly, there is the coast of the
, which is translated from Spanish as the 'sandy place'. This city is a favorite spot for those who love ocean-based recreation, including among the local population. There were many sandy beaches around and the Costa Ricans were relaxing there to the fullest. However, our guide advised us not to get into the water. According to her, it was not very clean. Judging by the presence of crocodiles, dirt wasn't the only obstacle to bathing.
We began our acquaintance with the wildlife of Costa Rica with a tour through the mangroves. Although it looks like a river, it is in fact it a bay. Like the ocean, the bay holds saltwater.
Of course, we all wanted to see the crocodiles. I must say that we found them pretty quickly. Three reptiles were basking on a small beach. One was in the center, the second was laying on a patch of grass to the right, and the third was partially hidden behind a tree near a bush.
Here is a closer look. As our boat approached them, we turned the engine off and observed them in silence. This is was a big surprise for me, since I have never seen crocodiles look so afraid of approaching boats, or even of a camera's shutter.
Nevertheless, when we got close enough, they began to run away from the shore and into the water.
I found it difficult to understand exactly what caused such behavior. Costa Rican crocodilea are close relatives to the Australian ones. Those beasts are definitely not shy. Although, these reptiles are not as big as their overseas relatives.
According to the guide, the concentration of crocodiles here is one largest in the world. However, while sailing further through the mangroves, we didn't see another one.
As well as the Australian one, this crocodile can live both in salt and fresh water.
Its basic diet consists of fish. In addition, it can prey on small animals and birds.
Another thing that surprised me was the fact that there were several individuals together on the beach. Australian crocodiles are very aggressive and "hold down their fort". Here, they tolerated neighbors quite easily. Perhaps there was enough food for everyone and no need for fierce competition.
Nevertheless, there was no one left on the shore at that moment. We just only see the head of the largest one in the water.
Besides crocodiles, we saw lots of different birds during the tour. In particular, we saw birds who search for food in the local reservoirs.
The fact is that not all plants are able to grow here because of the extremely high salinity of the soil. The tides cause large amounts of sand and silt to be deposited, therefore the soil is very dense and does not get a lot of oxygen. As a result, for example, fruit trees cannot grow here. Meanwhile, mangrove trees and bushes that grow along the banks create a habitat for various animals.
Herons and kingfishers eat small fish.
In addition, crabs and various mollusks live in the roots of the mangrove trees.
These birds, in turn, are the prey for larger predators.
It was especially interesting to watch this heron. It is not quite clear what it was doing from the side. We could only see its slightly open beak.
You can see from this angle that the bird spread its wings and sits motionless in that position, catching the breeze. It was trying to cool down since it was very hot.
Many herons walked along the beach trying to find small crabs and mollusks washed ashore by the tide.
Besides birds, we often saw iguanas in the branches. We even saw one during the trip. Well... I personally didn't see it, although I was trying my best. Our guide was actively pointing at one of the trees. So, we believed that there was an iguana swinging somewhere on the branches inside the tree crown.
In general, two-thirds of the country is covered by different forests. Various protected areas occupy more than a quarter of the total area and this figure continues to rise. This is a country-reserve.
Our tour through the mangroves ended. Although, as it turned out, this was only the beginning. The most interesting part was still ahead. You can read about the natural wonders of Costa Rica in the next article -