Costa Rica Wildlife

Check out some of the exotic creatures you might encounter in the wilds of Costa Rica.

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Glover's Atoll Belize
Glover's Atoll Belize

Glover's Atoll Belize

Divers and snorkelers will find an abundance of marine life at Glover’s Atoll, a protected reef system and the southernmost and smallest of Belize’s 3 atolls. Divers frequently encounter dolphins, turtles, sharks and manta rays there. 960 1280

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Whale Shark in Belize

Whale Shark in Belize

Catch a glimpse of the largest fish in the world – the whale shark – from Placencia, Belize. The gentle (believe it or not) creatures are typically found within only 20 feet of the water’s surface, and congregate in Belize each year to feed on fish eggs. 960 1280

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Carocol in Belize

Carocol in Belize

Belize has the highest concentration of Mayan sites of all the countries in Central America, and archeologists suggest that Carocol, believed to have been one of the most important political centers of the Mayan civilization, was home to more than double the number of people that currently live in Belize City, the country’s largest metropolitan area. 960 1280

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Laughing Bird Caye

Laughing Bird Caye

Laughing Bird Caye is one of the beautiful islands that make up the Belize Barrier Reef World Heritage Site. 960 1280

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Stingray

Stingray

A stingray is one of the impressive creatures you may come across on a snorkeling trip in Belize. Be careful not to walk along the ocean floor -- you wouldn’t want to step on one! 960 1280

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Actun Tunichil Muknal

Actun Tunichil Muknal

Actun Tunichil Muknal -- one of Belize’s many Mayan archaeological sites -- houses the skeleton of a teenage girl, dubbed “The Crystal Maiden” because of the sparkling, crystalized appearance of her bones. To reach the cave, visitors must embark on a 45-minute hike, followed by a swim to the inside of the cave. Visitors can also get a look at the remains of the 13 other humans that now share the cave with the Crystal Maiden. 960 1280

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Belize City

Belize City

Boats are anchored in the harbor of Belize City, the largest city in the small Central American country. 960 1280

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Sea turtles

Sea turtles

Belize is home to one of the world’s most endangered marine species, the sea turtle. Green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles can all be found between the coast and the barrier reef. 960 1280

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Blue Hole in Belize

Blue Hole in Belize

The aptly named “Blue Hole” is a large collapsed sinkhole near the center of Lighthouse Reef. Explorer Jacques Cousteau named the hole one of the top scuba diving sites in the world. 960 1280

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Red-footed booby in Belize

Red-footed booby in Belize

Visit Half Moon Caye to get a look at one of the island’s 4,000 red-footed boobies. 960 1280

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Silk Cayes in Belize

Silk Cayes in Belize

One of the Silk Cayes – tiny, serene, white-sand islands on the Belize Barrier Reef. 960 1280

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Red lionfish

Red lionfish

The exquisite red lionfish. Watch out for them -- it’s their large venomous spines that make them resemble lions. 960 1280

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Half Moon Caye in Belize

Half Moon Caye in Belize

The sun rises over Half Moon Caye in Belize. 960 1280

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Antillean Manatees in Belize

Antillean Manatees in Belize

Antillean manatees can be found in the rivers, lagoons and coastal areas of Belize. Because of their slow metabolisms, they prefer shallow, warm water, and can be spotted in water only a few yards deep. 960 1280

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Sea Lion
Sea Lions

Sea Lions

Some travel companies on the Galapagos Islands offer tours that provide tourists with an opportunity to see sea lions chillin’ in the sun. There are 2 species of sea lions on the islands. A sea lion (featured) has a thin fur coat and usually hangs out on beaches and rocky shorelines. Fur sea lions only live on rocky shorelines and have a thick fur coat. 960 1280

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San Cristóbal Island

San Cristóbal Island

San Cristóbal Island -- aka Chatham Island to English speakers -- is the easternmost island in the Galapagos Islands, and one of the oldest geologically. The island has 2 popular dive sites, Kicker Rock and Isla de Lobos. If you’re into birdwatching, then head to the Laguna El Junco, the largest freshwater lake in the archipelago. The lake harbors a large population of birdlife. 960 1280

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Blue-Footed Boobies

Blue-Footed Boobies

Birdwatchers flock to this part of the world to see a variety of wildlife unique only to the Galapagos Islands. Visit Espanola Island and North Seymour Island for an up-close-and-personal view of the blue-footed booby. Males and younger birds usually have lighter feet than females. 960 1280

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Giant Tortoises

Giant Tortoises

Some Galapagos tortoises can weigh over 500pounds and measure 6 feet from head to tail. These turtles have a unique water storage capacity; they can go more than a year without any food or water. Some subspecies are threatened or in danger of extinction, while others have stable and growing populations, thanks to the efforts of conservationists and the Charles Darwin Foundation. 960 1280

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Land Iguanas

Land Iguanas

Fernandina, Isabela, Santa Cruz, North Seymour, Espanola and South Plaza Islands are home to between 5,000 and 10,000 land iguanas. English naturalist Charles Darwin claimed that there were so many iguanas on James Island that setting up a tent was a monumental task. 960 1280

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Galapagos Hawks

Galapagos Hawks

These hawks are the largest birds on the Galapagos Islands. The buzzard-like birds feed on lava lizards, snakes, young marine iguanas and chicks of sea birds. The best places to spot these feathered creatures are on Espanola, Santiago, Santa Fe, Isabela and Fernandina Islands. 960 1280

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Barthlomé Island

Barthlomé Island

Take a stroll along a path to Pinnacle Rock Overlook to get an awe-inspiring view of Bartolomé Island, a volcanic islet just off the east coast of Santiago Island. The island was named after Sir Bartholomew James Sulivan, a lifelong friend of naturalist Charles Darwin. 960 1280

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Galapagos Penguins

Galapagos Penguins

The biggest populations of Galapagos penguins are on the islands of Fernandina and Isabela. This type of penguin is distinguishable from other species because of an upside-down horseshoe shape around its stomach, which extends down to its legs. 960 1280

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Surfing

Surfing

Hit the waves! The Galapagos Islands are a popular destination for surfers. Baltra Island’s Aeolian Cove, San Cristóbal Island’s Punta Carola, Santa Cruz Island’s Las Palmas and Isabela Island’s Playa Barahona are just a few of the best surfing spots in the archipelago. 960 1280

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Darwin Island

Darwin Island

Take a dive near Darwin’s Arch off the coast of Darwin Island. This island was named in honor of naturalist Charles Darwin, and it is among the smallest islands in the Galapagos archipelago. The tropical waters around the island are a prime spot for divers to explore the marine life, including whale sharks, green turtles, manta rays and dolphins. Darwin Island is not open to land visits. 960 1280

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Whitetip Reef Sharks

Whitetip Reef Sharks

Whitetip reef sharks can be easily identified by their pointed nose, silver-gray color and the white tips on their tail. Fearless and curious, whitetip reef sharks may approach swimmers closely but are seldom aggressive unless provoked. Devil’s Crown on Floreana Island and Black Turtle Cove on Santa Cruz Island are just a couple prime places to see this specific species of sharks. 960 1280

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Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island

The second largest island after Isabela, Santa Cruz Island is a large dormant volcano, located in the center of the archipelago. Its capital, Puerto Ayora, is the most populated urban center in the islands. The town’s southern shore is lined with cactus, marine iguanas, pelicans and the blue-footed booby that coexist among tourist boats, restaurants, small hotels and houses. 960 1280

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Snorkeling

Snorkeling

Go snorkeling to see batfish (pictured), hawkfish, blue-chin parrotfish, bumphead damselfish and more. The myriad fish in the Galapagos are enough to keep any swimmer entranced for hours. The best time for snorkeling is from December to May. 960 1280

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Lava Lizards

Lava Lizards

Head to Santiago, San Cristóbal or Santa Cruz Islands for your chance to get a glimpse of a lava lizard. There are 7 different species of lava lizards found in the Galapagos. The male lava lizard is larger than the female and they look distinctly different. The overall color patterns are different, and the females have bright red skin under their throats. 960 1280

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Brown-Throated Sloth
Brown-Throated Sloth

Brown-Throated Sloth

Found in the Amazon rainforest, the brown-throated sloth is the most common of the 4 species of the 3-toed sloth. Its guard hairs are very coarse and stiff, and they have no gall bladder or appendix. Although they can swim and walk along the ground, sloths spend most of their lives high in the tree tops, eating leaves. 960 1280

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Macaw

Macaw

Tourists will find this colorful-feathered friend in the Amazon. Macaws are the largest tropical parrots, reaching up to 3 feet from head to tail. The blue and yellow macaw -- also called the blue and gold macaw -- is one of seven species of macaws that live in the Amazon. And you won’t have to go far to spot these birds -- they generally hang around popular food sources, including hotels and lodges. 960 1280

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Piranha

Piranha

Contrary to popular belief, most piranhas eat fallen fruit. No, it’s not as thrilling as stripping the meat off the bone. Rest easy -- no confirmed fatalities have occurred from a mass attack. Some tour companies offer fishing expeditions, providing tourists with the opportunity to fish for piranhas with just a stick, a hook and a piece of meat. 960 1280

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White-Knee Tarantula

White-Knee Tarantula

The White-knee tarantula is a species of tarantula native to forests in Brazil. It’s a medium-sized, but fast-growing spider that’s usually very hungry. This creepy creature’s bite is actually worse than its venomous bite, often leaving extensive puncture wounds. Usually this spider’s first line of defense is its urticating hairs that can be quite irritating to human skin. 960 1280

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Squirrel Monkey

Squirrel Monkey

Squirrel monkeys -- the most abundant monkey in the Amazon Rainforest -- stick together in groups of around 20 to 100.Their diet consists of fruits, insects and sometimes flower nectar. Mothers give birth to their young during the rainy season, and they take exclusive care for the young. Their connection is heartwarming. 960 1280

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Toucan

Toucan

About 40 species of toucan live in the Amazon. They have bright-colored plumage and bills. Toucans usually nest in tree holes or holes already created by woodpeckers. Although more often heard than seen, toucans are usually seen only in near a tree’s crown or canopy. So it is probably unlikely that birdwatchers will ever be able to catch a glimpse of these colorful characters. 960 1280

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Eyelash Viper

Eyelash Viper

Eyelash vipers are arguably one of the world’s most beautiful, but most dangerous snakes. They have distinctive modified scales over their eyes to give them the appearance of having eyelashes. This type of pit viper is largely nocturnal, consuming small rodents, frogs, lizards and birds. It’s not an aggressive snake, but they do strike if harassed. 960 1280

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Poison Dart Frog

Poison Dart Frog

Poison dart frogs acquired their name because Amerindians -- indigenous, pre-Columbian people of North and South America -- used the frog’s toxic secretions to poison the tips of blowdarts. Dart frogs usually grow up to 6-centimeters long. Their brightly-colored, patterned skin is a warning to potential predators -- making a meal out of this toxic frog could be hazardous to their health. 960 1280

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Capuchin Monkey

Capuchin Monkey

Capuchin monkeys are intelligent and clever, using stones to crack open nuts, shellfish and crabs. The tree-dwelling monkeys were named by explorers after their resemblance to an order of Catholic friars, the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. 960 1280

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Black Caiman

Black Caiman

The black caiman is the largest predator in the Amazon basin. Its skin color keeps the meat-eating reptile camouflaged while hunting at night. An adult male caiman can grow to be 16-feet long and weigh more than 800 pounds. It only has a few natural predators, but a large anaconda has been known to take on a young caiman. 960 1280

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Puma

Puma

Pumas are powerful predators that stalk and ambush their prey. They are small cats usually 22 to 30 inches long and range between 10 and 20 pounds. Fish, frogs, reptiles, birds, rodents and small mammals are potential food choices for a male puma if they are within 45- to 56-mile radius territory. Bon appetite! 960 1280

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Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

Take a look above when you’re in the Amazon’s thick jungle. That’s where you’ll find howler monkeys, jumping from tree tops. These agile creatures can grasp a branch with at least 2 hands and or 1 hand and their tail at all times. Their tail is so strong that it can support their entire body weight. 960 1280

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Jaguar

Jaguar

Meet the ultimate Amazon predator. The jaguar is at the top of the food chain. Revered by local tribes, this feline beast hunts close to the water for large animals, including deer, capybara and peccary. 960 1280

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