My Best Pictures and Movies from Costa Rica

Costa Rica Ecology, Photo Images, and Movies: Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica


Interested in Tropical Ecology? There are 299 Days left before we hit the rainforest in 2020. Contact R. Hays Cummins

R. Hays Cummins | Western Program| Miami University

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It is 9:36:03 PM on Monday, October 26, 2020. This page has served 2466471 Ecophiles and was last updated on Friday, February 15, 2019.

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Tropical Field Courses

Photos, Images and Movies Copyright R. Hays Cummins. Authorization Required. For permission, contact

Use "Pop-Ups" below to select Costa Rica Slideshows and Videos!

These beautiful pictures originate from the Costa Rica Field Course. Be sure to visit the syllabus!

Costa Rica Course Syllabus 2020: Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica

Marine Ecology Course Syllabus 2020: Tropical Marine Ecology of the Florida Keys, Everglades and the Bahamas

Here, you will find a vast array of tropical ecosystem images, photos, and movies taken while teaching my Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica course. You find many images and movies of volcanoes, cloud and lowland forests, mangroves, bats, birds, snakes, insects, primates, and indigenous peoples, to name a few. It's all here! Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica serves as an intensive introduction to Neotropical ecosystems--how they were formed, how they are changing. The goal of this course is to introduce students to the structure and function of Neotropical ecosystems, as well as to geological, biological, cultural, and economic forces affecting the biodiversity of Costa Rica. An intensive lecture schedule is combined with firsthand field experiences, individual and group investigations, emphasizing research methods in tropical systems. Topics to be covered in depth include the geology of Costa Rica, tropical ecology, Pre-Columbian to modern patterns of land use in lowland, premontane, montane, and mangrove ecosystems, experimental design, and the statistical analysis of data. The course is interdisciplinary. Dr. Cummins is a paleobiologist and oceanographer; Dr. McCollum is a stream ecologist. Both conduct field research in the tropics. Prerequisites: Two courses in natural sciences and permission of instructor. Limited scholarships available. Maximum enrollment: 18. First come, first served.

Be Sure to Visit:

Tropical Marine Ecology of the Bahamas Imagery

Compliments of Graphic Maps

Click & Ye Shall Find!

You'll need Apple's Quicktime to view quicktime movies.



1991 Great Earthquake



Symbiotic Relationships Beautiful Amphibian Pictures

Leatherback Sea Turtles

Primate Quicktimes

Spider Quicktimes

Turtle Quicktimes

Arthropod Quicktimes

Sierpe River Quicktimes

Banana Plantation Quicktimes

Caribbean Mangroves and Corals

Bocas, Panama

Sloth Quicktimes

Leaf Cutter Quicktimes

Corcovado/Cano Island Quicktimes

Bird Quicktimes

Bri Bri Medicinal/Iguana Quicktimes

Other Marine Creatures

Marine Ecology Images Arenal Volcano

 Pacific Mangroves

Fliers:Bats & Birds

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Misc Interesting Shots

Other Plant Shots

Human Land Use--Banana Plantations & More

Other Land Use

Banana History and Art

These tropical ecosystem images, pictures and movies were taken primarily by Hays Cummins! Many photos are very large and are best viewed using an External Viewer such as Graphic Converter. Configure your browser to have your external viewer open the images. Then you're all set!

Special: The Darien Gap is a unique oasis of biological diversity in Panama. This ecosystem is being threatened by road construction of the Pan American Highway. The only missing link is a 54-mile stretch through two national parks -- one in Panama, the other in Colombia -- that contain the Darien Gap's more than 3 million acres of unspoiled wilderness. (Quicktime movie from CNN)


Rincon de la Vieja, Irazu, and Poas Volcanoes

The entire landscape of Costa Rica has been shaped by plate tectonics and much of the overall ecologic diversity of the country is due to highly variable geography. For instance, this coastal rock along the SW Pacific coast, once part of the sea floor, has been uplifted, Folded and Twisted (TREC 99) by movements of the earth's crust (another fantastic perspective in Corcovado).And, Faults are common (TREC 00). Costa Rica has over 600 extinct and active volcanoes. Volcano World compiles the latest information on volcanic eruptions in Costa Rica and also specific volcanoes such as Rincon de la Vieja.

The Great Earthquake of 1991

In April, 1991, a major earthquake, magnitude 7.4, struck Costa Rica. The epicenter was near Limon on the Caribbean coast. Damage was extensive to buildings, streets and bridges. Later, after heavy rains, tree falls from the quake were washed into rivers and eventually created dams which soon broke and caused further destruction of bridges. Today, geologic evidence of the quake consists of a general 1.5 meter uplift of the land along the CR southeast coast. Fringing reef is now emergent even at high tide. In the pictures below, note the bio-erosive notch now over a meter above sea level. The upper notch was once the former sea level location before the quake.

Arenal Volcano-One of the most active volcanoes in the world (Check out an Arenal Quicktime Slide Show (~2.5mb)) And, here is another Arenal Quicktime Slideshow (~5.0mb) Terrific!

Arenal Volcano Quicktime Movies

Corcovado National Park--Crustal Folds and Faults



A Quicktime Video of Corcovado National Park at Sirena. Double Click on the image above to view quicktime. Includes squirrel monkeys, tapirs, etc.



Crocs, Lizards and Skinks

Reptile/Amphibian (Crocodiles, Snakes, Frogs, and Lizards) Quicktime Movies

You'll need Apple's Quicktime to view these movies.


Spider Quicktime Movies

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Bizarre Crickets

Other Unusual Arthropod Critters

Cecropia trees are a common site in disturbed areas such as along trails, bordering roadways and agricultural fields, and in recent "light gaps" created by tree falls in the rainforest. Sometimes, if you're real lucky, you can spot Sloths near the crown of Cecropia trees! Here is another Distant Sloth at Almonds & Corals, SE Costa Rica. And Another One! Check out this spectacular Sloth Taking Shelter under a roof!

Sloth Quicktime Movies


Primate Photographs

Taking photos of primates near the tops of the canopy requires luck and persistence. This year, we saw all four Costa Rican Primate species--Howler, Spider, Squirrel, and White-face Capuchins. Photos from Corcovado National Park and Manzanillo Refuge in SE Costa Rica. Sometimes you get lucky!

Primate Quicktime Movies

You'll need Apple's Quicktime to view these movies.

Symbiotic Relationships: Ants & Plants

Tropical rainforests are famous for the many fascinating symbiotic relationships that have evolved over millions of years. Acacia sp. trees have developed an intimate relationship with a a small 6 mm long ant (Pseudomyrmex ferruginea).The trees provide the ants with a place to live and eat while the ants enthusiastically protect the trees from herbivores and vines.

Leaf Cutter (Atta cephalotes), Acacia Pseudomyrmex, and Bullet Ant (Paraponera clavata) Quicktime Movies

You'll need Apple's Quicktime to view these movies.

Beautiful Amphibian Pictures --Check out this beautiful Quicktime Movie (~700k) " A Costa Rica Frog Potpourri"

Panama Poison Dart Frogs

Other Frog and Amphibian Wonders

Press Browser RELOAD after each dart frog Dendrobates auratus image request! (TREC 03)


Pacific Mangroves-- Check out a Costa Rica/Panama "Mangrove Potpourri" Quicktime Movie Slide Show (~5.3mb)!

Caribbean Mangroves, Bocas del Toro Province, Panama

Caribbean Corals, Bocas del Toro Province, Panama

Some Other Interesting Plant Photographs

Corcovado--Strangler Figs (Ficus sp.), Other Trees, Archeology & Fun Quicktime Movies

Bri Bri Medicinal Plant Quicktime Movies

Fliers: Bats & Birds

  • In SE Louisisana on the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain, we visited the Big Branch Preserve in December, 2005. We came across hundreds of American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) and a few Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis).
  • At Jean Lafitte National Park, Hurricane Katrina Damage was everywhere as shown in these slides and Jean Lafitte Quicktime Video. And, there where lots of birds to be seen in the winter landscape.

    Bird and Bat Quicktime Movies

    You'll need Apple's Quicktime to view these movies.

    Leatherback Turtles of Gandoca, SE Costa Rica

    One turtle species on the verge of extinction is the leatherback turtle, Dermochelys coriacea. Efforts on the conservation of these remarkable reptiles is taking place worldwide. On the Gandoca beach in the Gandoca/Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge, 300-1000 females nest between the months of March and July. We had the pleasure of visiting this beach and saw many remarkable things. Topping the list was our first nesting female, and, the next day, witnessing the hatching, and assisting in the release, of 40 baby leatherbacks. Special thanks to Karen, Lalo, and Gabe.

    Quicktime Movies of the Gandoca/Manzanillo Sea Turtle Conservation Project

    You'll need Apple's Quicktime to view these movies.

    Other Marine Creatures

    Marine Quicktime Movies


    People, Places and Other Neat Stuff

    Of course, many plants and animals are thrown into the mix!

    Monteverde Cloud Forest

    Be sure to "refresh" your browser after each image selection!

    Some Monteverde & Santa Elena Quicktime Movies (More Elsewhere)

    Bocas del Toro, Panama: Island Archipelago. (TREC 98)

    These pictures include the flight from Sierpe in SW Costa Rica to the Panama-Costa Rica border, the border crossing and miscellaneous pictures from the general area near the town of Bocas.

    Sierpe River: SW Costa Rica River, Estuarine System and Pacific Shoreline System

    Sierpe River & Pacific Crossing Quicktime Movies

    Sierpe River Mangrove Quicktime Movies

    Caribbean Side: Limon, Manzanillo Refuge and Other Environments

    Corcovado and Drake Bay, SW Pacific Region Check out a Quicktime Movie Slide Show (~7.5mb)

    Drake Bay Dancing Quicktime Movies

    Cano Island, SW Pacific Region

    Palo Verde National Park, NW Costa Rica

    Miscellaneous Interesting Shots: People, Lowland Rainforest & Other Locations

    Human Land Use

    Balancing the Needs of Nature and People

    Banana Plantation (SW Costa Rica)--Check out a ~4 MB Quicktime Slideshow "Banana Potpourri"

    Banana Quicktime Movies

    You'll need Apple's Quicktime to view these movies.

    Banana Plantation Artwork (SW Costa Rica Banana Processing Plant)

    The United Fruit Company dominated the banana plantations in the early 1900s. Workers at this processing plant near Sierpe painted beautiful art on the sheet metal wall panels that depicted much of the history of the hard work, pride and humanity of the workers in the early 1900s. I learned more from these fantastic paintings than from my past six visits combined. This artwork belongs in the National Museum of Costa Rica!

    Recent Banana Plantation Artwork (SW Costa Rica Banana Processing Plant)

    More recent artwork was on the Building Supports of the processing plant. Artwork included numerous "labels" of the popular exports.

    Banana labels that end up on shipped bananas!

    Other Human Land Use

    Tropical Ecosystems of Costa Rica has been taught for the last 18 years. Check out the SYLLABUS. For more info, contact Hays Cummins or Chris Myers.

    Visit two wonderful Costa Rica web sites. One focuses on Rincon de la Vieja Volcano in NW Costa Rica while the Tico Times provides a weekly update of Costa Rica happenings.

    Don't Forget to Visit Tropical Marine Ecology Imagery!

    Summer 2003 Video and Slideshow Collection

    The entire 2003 collection of slides can be found on the Costa Rica 2003 Slide Collection web page.

    Summer 2003 Video and Slideshow Collection

    Listen to a "Voice Navigation" Intro! (Quicktime or MP3)

    Use "Pop-Ups" below to select other Costa Rica 2003 Slideshows and Videos!

    Leg 1: SE Costa Rica--Caribbean Coast Leg 2:La Selva Biological Station Leg 3: Arenal Volcano Leg 4: Road to Monteverde
    • To Monteverde (Wind Farm). After leaving Arenal, we headed for Monteverde. On the way, we stopped in Tileran to visit a "Wind Farm." It was a fascinating visit! A Quicktime Slideshow! (TREC 03)
    Leg 5: Monteverde Preserve Leg 6: SW Pacific Coast
    • Sierpe River Basin Slides. The Sierpe River Basin is beautiful, a contrast between human land use concerns and awesome mangroves. A Quicktime Slideshow! (TREC 03)
    • Sierpe River Basin and Mangroves . Wow! More Sierpe River Basin slides. Includes a walk through an abandoned banana plantation (Cecropias have taken over after only two years!) and costal mangroves. A Quicktime Slideshow! (TREC 03)
    • Cano Island Twenty or so Kilometers off the SW Costa Rica coastline lies Cano Island. Here, we snorkled. We saw spotted eagle rays, courting manta rays, white-tip sharks, a green sea turtle and fish of all the colors of the rainbow. A Quicktime Slideshow! (TREC 03)
    • Corcovado National Park San Pedrillo. Corcovado National Park is one of the most fascinating natural areas remaining in Costa Rica. Here, we focus on the San Pedrillo Field Station. WOW! What a great day! A Quicktime Slideshow! (TREC 03)
    • Corcovado Venomous Snakes. We saw two ferdelances in Corcovado National Park! While not large, they were still incredibly beautiful! A Quicktime Video!
    • Corcovado National Park Sirena Field Station. Corcovado National Park is one of the most fascinating natural areas remaining in Costa Rica. Here, we focus on the Sirena Field Station. WOW! It rained HARD for fours hours straight while we were in the forest! A Quicktime Slideshow! (TREC 03)
    • Miscellaneous Corcovado Slides. A collection of slides that conatin miscellaneous tropical images of interest inclusing crocodiles, poison dart frogs, leaf-cutting bats, crested guans, and Hays doing push-ups! A Quicktime Slideshow! (TREC 03)
    • A Corcovado Park Mix. Donna's collection of slides from Corcovado National Park, San Pedrillo Station. A Quicktime Slideshow! (TREC 03)
    Finishing Up

    Summer 2002 Video and Slideshow Collection

    Monteverde Preserve Corcovado National Park Sierpe River Region Caribbean Coast

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    Photographic Images Copyright © 1996-2012. R. Hays Cummins; All rights reserved.