On Wednesday, January 29, children from the local community who form part of the AEP´s Pro-Eco Pela´os program hopped out of bed early, arriving at Casa Pasa ready for the year´s first field trip.
Departing Pedasí before 7 AM, thirteen local children, accompanied by the AEP´s Carmela Luciano, Jairo Batista, and Mark Waterman, arrived at the Madroño trails near Playa Venao at just the right time. The group had scarcely entered the forest when the children were treated to a rare sight—a whole troop of Azuero spider monkeys! The monkeys, out for their morning meal, swung from branch to branch right in front of the AEP group. The troop was made up of between 15 and 18 Azuero spider monkeys, with at least one mother carrying a newborn spider monkey on her back.
The spider monkeys slowly moved away, and the group, after watching the last monkey go on its way, entered the forest. During a short walk through the young dry forest of Madroño, the Pro-Eco Pela´os learned about the interactions between the bull horn acacia and its resident ants, the changes between dry and wet seasons, and the process of natural regeneration in the forest.
After finishing their walk in the forest, the team piled back into the van for the short trip down the road to the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission’s Achotines Laboratory. With guidance from the lab’s own Lina Castillo, the children watched the mid-morning feeding of the various species of fish in the laboratory’s large saltwater tanks. Next the group moved indoors to see what plankton, an important source of food for many marine mammals, looks like under a microscope. Hearing about the various ongoing investigations at the laboratory, the group learned a lot about the importance of conserving local fish species.
Worn out after a long day of learning, the group headed back to Pedasí, ready to continue learning about the conservation of forest and aquatic resources in the weeks to come!