Amateur herpetologist goes on hike in Costa Rica cloud forest, discovers unlikely creatures

March 2, 2014
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I came to Costa Rica in 2013 for a six-month internship with GVI volunteer program in Tortugero National Park, where I gathered data on sea turtles and jaguars and was trained in species identification. As part of the program, I traveled to Cloudbridge Nature Reserve in San Gerardo de Rivas, a 700-acre cloud forest where I often went hiking in search of reptiles and amphibians.

To my surprise, I began finding species that had never before been seen in the area, including emerald glass frogs, masked tree frogs and a rare kind of salamander.

I was invited to stay at the reserve as a resident biologist for three months, and over those months, I continued to unearth species never before documented in the area, identifying them with the help of scientific tomes and taking their photographs. My dream is to someday find a red-eyed stream frog, which was recently taken off the list of extinct species. But here are some photographs of the creatures I have already stumbled on.

Courtesy of Matt Smokoska
Matt Smokoska found just one masked tree frog at Cloudbridge Nature Reserve. According to his research, it had never been seen before in the area, or anywhere in Costa Rica with an elevation of more than 1,500 feet. Courtesy of Matt Smokoska
Courtesy of Matt Smokoska
A caecilian found and identified by Robert Maurer. Courtesy of Matt Smokoska
Courtesy of Matt Smokoska
The first Eleutherodactylus angelicus ever seen at Cloudbridge. Courtesy of Matt Smokoska
Courtesy of Matt Smokoska
This Oedipina savage salamander is the first to be discovered at Cloudbridge. Courtesy of Matt Smokoska

 

 

 

 

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