Ecology Trip Takes Students to Rainforests and Beaches of Costa Rica

In June, rising seniors Gabby Mascioli, Joey Gaglioti, Natalie Bacallao and Kiki Feeney joined science teacher Amy Keglovits and Villa graduates Norah Bice, Candy Ciesielski and Lilith Weinlick on a 9-day adventure with Ecology Project International. The group toured the jungles, rainforests and beaches of Costa Rica for 9 days.

The students captured and cataloged butterflies in the Veragua Rainforest — with Joey finding a rare species of butterfly that has yet to be identified! — and collected data on leatherback sea turtle hatchlings at the Pacuare Reserve. They took guided day and night hikes, exploring the biodiversity of their surroundings in both ecosystems, and observed monkeys, sloths, poisonous dart frogs, snakes, Agami herons, dangerous bullet ants, toucans, iguanas and leatherback sea turtles, just to name a few.

In Veragua the group took a canopy tour of the rainforest, and in Pacuare they explored the area’s beautiful fauna and set camera traps to look for jaguar and other hard-to-capture animal life. One camera caught an ocelot and a large nesting crocodile! They accompanied research assistants on their nightly turtle census along the beach, counting, weighing, and measuring newly hatched babies before releasing them into the Caribbean.

During the day they attended short lectures and conducted field investigations of their choosing, which they presented before leaving the reserve. On their last morning, before rafting through class 2 and 3 rapids down the Pacuare River, they even witnessed an erupting volcano across the valley from their cabins.

Says Mrs. Keglovits, “It was a memorable experience to say the least!”