Manuel Antonio National Park
Central Pacific Conservation Area (ACOPAC), Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio National Park is located in the Central Pacific Conservation Area or ACOPAC (Area de Conservacion Pacifico Central). This protected wilderness area is located on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica in the Aguirre county, the Province of Puntarenas, 7 kilometers southwest of the city of Quepos, i.e., 157 kilometers south of San José.
It was created on November 15, 1972, by Law No.5100. It has an area of 1.983 hectares on land and 55,000 hectares in the marine area. The area topography is broken and mostly has a slope of 20% or more. The altitude varies from 0 to 160 meters above sea level.
The region where this national park is located was populated by the Quepos indigenous people, which is how the city of Quepos got its name. When the colonists arrived, the land was turned into farms that were later acquired by the United Fruit Company.
The area currently in the park was acquired by foreigners who blocked access to people from the area. This situation caused a national park committee to be formed. It convinced the municipal and national authorities to declare it as a national park.
Manuel Antonio National Park is a small biological island within an area involved in different activities such as agriculture, livestock, and significant tourism development.
Part of the forest is currently being regenerated since timber was logged in the past and on September 14, 1993, it suffered the consequences of Hurricane Gert, which destroyed a large part of the primary forest.
This is one of the national parks with the most scenic beauty in the country and one of the areas that receives the most domestic and international tourism. Another major attraction is the tropical rainforest where flora and fauna species in danger of extinction live.
A geo-morphological feature that bears mentioning is Punta Catedral (Cathedral Point): In the past it was an island and the accumulation of sediments joined it to the mainland by a sandy strip called a SPIT.
The climate is humid tropical, characterized by a short dry season (January to March) and a longer rainy season (April to December). The average annual precipitation is 3,584 millimeters. Relative humidity is 86%. The maximum annual average temperature is 31º C., with a minimum of 22.6º C. and a mean of 26.8º C. The winds blow from south to east with an average speed of 5.5 kilometers up to 70 kilometers per hour in tropical storms. The average annual daily hours of sunshine are 5.9, with a minimum of 4.3 in August and a maximum of 9 in March.
Flora and Fauna
- Left: White-faced Capuchin monkey (source), photo by Steven G. Johnson, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
- Center: Central American Squirrel Monkey (source), photo by Michelle Reback, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
- Right: Three-toed sloth (source), photo by Michelle Reback, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Manuel Antonio National Park has a great deal of wealth in the form of its flora and fauna with records of 352 bird species, 109 mammal species, varied marine fauna and 346 plant species. Bird species are frequently sighted in the area such as:
- Fishing Hawk
- Green Torquas
You can also spot reptiles such as iguanas, lizards, and serpents. Some of the more outstanding mammals include:
- Two-toed and Three-toed Sloths
- White-faced Monkey
- Squirrel Monkey
During the rainy season, the abundance of water and food inside the forest makes it possible for the animals to better sustain themselves unlike the dry season, where they look for food close to the beach. Some of these animals are nocturnal so it is difficult to spot them during the day.
There is also a great deal of marine fauna such as:
- Angel Fish
- Sea Urchins
- Star Fish
In addition, it is possible to find an infinity of insects such as:
- Praying Mantis
- Biting Midges
The park is in transition are from tropical rainforest to very wet tropical rainforest. The plants throughout the area include the primary forest covering approximately 105 hectares, the non-virgin primary forest (130 hectares), the secondary mature forest (122 hectares), the young secondary forest (228 hectares), the secondary forest with fruit trees (6 hectares), and the mangrove covering approximately 8 hectares, with its species of red, white, and black mangroves.
Likewise, the forest contains outstanding species such as:
- Guácimo Colorado (Luehea seemannii)
- Bully Tree
- Maria Cedar
- West Indian Locust
- Black Locust
- Cow Tree
- Cotton Tree
The beach is abundant with Manchineel trees, almond trees, pink trumpet trees, and coconut palms.
- Left: Basilisk Lizards (source), photo by Michelle Reback, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
- Right: Male Ctenosaur/Black Iguana (source), photo by Michelle Reback, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported