Northern ghost bats (diclidurus albus

We are so exited about finding in Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Romelia some members of this species.


Diclidurus albus is rare but widespread, ranging from Mexico to eastern Brazil. Found in some Caribbean Islands including Trinidad. During the summer months, no sightings of D. albus have been made in Mexico, the northern edge of its range, suggesting that members of this species migrate south seasonally, from May to October. Little information is available on D. albus migration patterns.

Northern ghost bats prefer humid habitats like riparian and tropical rainforests also have been found in human-disturbed areas like plantations, clearings, and to villages. They prefer to roost underneath the fronds of palms, including coconut, chocho palms, and coquito palms. These bats are seen in less mesic habitats, like deciduous and evergreen forests. Diclidurus albus migrates within the Neotropics. They occur from sea level to 1500 m. Observed at highest elevations in Costa Rica


Physical Description

Diclidurus albus is a distinctive looking bat species. The common name, Northern ghost bats, refers to their soft, long, white pelage. Sometimes the proximal ends of the hairs are grey in color, while the distal ends are white, giving the animal an ashy grey tone.

Northern ghost bats have nearly naked faces with large eyes and shorter, yellowish ears. They do not have a nose leaf, and their tragus is prominent, broad, and rounded.

Northern ghost bats are solitary. They do not form colonies and found in small groups only during the breeding season. Northern ghost bats are nocturnal and roost under palms during the day. They tend to fly high and in reasonably straight lines. Most studies of D. albus have focused on physical properties instead of behavioral characteristics, so the behavior of this species is not well known.

Like all members of the family Emballonuridae, Northern ghost bats are insectivorous. Stomach contents have a high proportion of moths.


Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Northern ghost bats may be significant in helping keep agricultural pest populations in check, but their rarity suggests that they might not contribute much to insect control.

Text by biologist Jennifer Rivera

Photos by Andrea Kasper


All rights reserved to Refugio Romelia

Northern ghost bats IMG_3549 IMG_3550

I found that here I wasn’t wishing for that connection. I didn’t need to hear what was going on in “civilization,” not while I was happily encased in my bubble of wilderness.

This is from a blog from Kathryn Gunderson.


So this is what I posted on my own blog, feel free to use it for anything. Hope it works; miss you guys, hope everything’s going great, and tell  Fidel that Jack and I say hi!


My recent trip to Costa Rica was the first of my three summer adventures planned, and it started way back in October. A lot of people ask how I came upon it—it really isn’t much of a story. I knew I wanted to volunteer abroad this summer, so I started googling different opportunities and realized that one of the most popular types was eco-volunteering in Central America, particularly in Costa Rica, with beach preservation and sea turtle conservation. It seemed like the perfect way for someone with, at that point, little experience in international travel to dip her feet into volunteering in different countries. The program I chose to volunteer with—a nonprofit called Tropical Adventures—was incredible; they were helpful and fast to respond to my emails, and they planned out everything for us. All I had to do was follow the itinerary.




The most experience I’d had with Latin America was a resort in Mexico, so the culture shock definitely hit me immediately upon leaving the San Jose airport. It took some time to acclimate to an entirely different way of doing things, but it was so wonderful to get to know this beautiful country and their hardworking, proud people. Costa Ricans (or Ticos and Ticas, as they call them there) are undoubtedly the most welcoming people I’ve ever come across; they all went out of their way to make us feel comfortable. And it wasn’t just the locals whose kindness and compassion stood out; the wide array of other travelers we met were always quick to strike up a meaningful and warm conversation. From Scandinavian surfers, study abroad students, an English teacher-slash-Yoga instructor, and an elderly expat man with an eyepatch who helped to translate Spanish for us, I was truly impressed with everyone I met.




Of course, the natural beauty was astounding. Stunning beaches, diverse rain forests, rolling mountains, green, green everywhere. We lived and worked at the Romelia Wildlife Refuge, located on the absolutely picturesque Playa Grande, about a 45 minute hike from the small surfing town of Montezuma on the Nicoya Peninsula. Our rustic volunteer lodge was farther back from the beach, surrounded by lush green jungle. We would work hard during the day doing beach cleanup, building the turtle hatchery, and maintaining the jungle, with breaks in between to enjoy the sun and waves and hike to the freshwater pools in the nearby creek. At night we would patrol for turtles, and I’ll never forget how amazing it was to watch a large Olive Ridley lay each one of her 129 eggs.




It’s strange how quickly we got used to life there—little electricity, no hot water or (perish the thought) wifi, iguanas that run around like squirrels, and howler monkeys so loud they woke us up at the crack of dawn every day. All of this, though, added to the appeal of our little escape in the Costa Rican rainforest. Unlike on my cruise the month before, when I’d constantly craved wifi, I found that here I wasn’t wishing for that connection. I didn’t need to hear what was going on in “civilization,” not while I was happily encased in my bubble of wilderness. A trip into town for Costa Rica’s final 8 World Cup match (which, by the way, was amazing—there is nothing like watching the World Cup in a country that cares so much about soccer) was our only taste of it for the week at the refuge, and that was plenty for me.




Costa Rica changed my perspective on life in numerous ways, and not just the change in perspective that comes from being suspended hundreds of feet in the air on a zipline over the rain forest. It taught me to appreciate simplicity a lot more. It taught me that, with some small changes in our lifestyles, we can live in harmony with nature rather than at odds with it. It taught me that all work—even something as small as picking up 200 lollipop sticks that washed up on a beach—is important in the grand scheme of things. It taught me that you meet the best people traveling. And above all, it taught me that pura vida, or pure life, is the way to live.




Pura vida, Costa Rica. I miss you already and I’ll be back again someday.

Food for Thought: How Romelia Changed the Way I Prepare and Buy Food by Jenn Adams

The most noticeable thing missing in the kitchen of Romelia is something that most people take for granted – a refrigerator. The most notable item in the kitchen is the wood stove.  Without electricity, Romelia is without common appliances that I was used to using back home and after taking on the role of fill-in cook when Antonia has her days off, I had to adapt to the way I prepared food – both in the way I cooked it (using only the wood stove) and the amount (no refrigeration means that leftover food goes to waste). Also, due to our location and lack of accessibility, our fresh produce is delivered weekly, our dried and canned goods delivered monthly. This means that we need to use all produce before they go bad, be conscientious to budget food for each meal, and decrease excess food in order to decrease our amount of waste.

This is vastly different to the way most see and experience food and cooking. Because of refrigeration, there is less concern with excess food, which can be saved, and vegetables and fruits can be used at leisure as it’s shelf life is extended. Also, due to the accessibility and ease in which one can buy and obtain food, there is no need to use only what one has to create a meal.

When I returned to the US after my first Romelia experience, I was shocked at the amount of food in my family’s kitchen. It seemed as if my mother had stockpiled food for the month and yet we would still go to the store to buy food to cook a meal we were “craving.” Although I enjoyed my break from rice and beans, I still tried to carry on the habits I had learned at Romelia. I cooked only what I needed, made sure to use all produce in a timely manner, and used what I had before buying more.  I decreased my waste and also saved money. I think that this experience has made a lasting effect on my life, a lesson that can be applied to more than just food, and that is, “Waste less and use what you have before buying more.” Jennifer Adams

No blender, we use a hand grinder
No blender, we use a hand grinder

IMG_1551 image

wood stove
wood stove
fresh picked beans
_MG_2172 fresh picked beans


Thinking about joining the family at Romelia, just do it. You will not regret it.

Originally when asked to write a blog for this week at Romelia, I was going to title it “Work Hard, Play Hard” and it was going to be about all the fun activities that we do when we are not saving sea turtles.  But things around here change so suddenly and some bad news from back home in Australia has forced me to say good-bye to Romelia in a few short weeks.  This has left me to sit here and reflect over my time here at Romelia.  

When I arrive back home, I am sure to have people ask that big question… “How was your trip?” However, I am starting to realize that it is impossible to sum up my experience in a few words.  Although I have only just reached the intended half way point (3 1/2 months) of my Costa Rica experience, I can safely say that I have had some incredible experiences that I am never going to forget.

Like the first time I saw a sea turtle lay a nest, releasing hatchlings into the ocean, the fun times here with friends, having both a beach and a jungle almost all to ourselves, visa runs to Nicaragua, the nicknames, great food, long crazy nights, and sun-filled chilled out days.

It is crazy for me to think that right now I am laying in a hammock in a hatchery that I helped build, watching over sea turtle eggs that we all have worked so hard to protect during countless long nights with intense amounts of coffee, which we then release to the ocean like proud parents.

Of course there are times and things that you miss about home while you are here like family or friends or even more importantly…. A huge barbecue, cold beers, and hot showers.  Coming from an Australian who has an indescribable love for barbecues and spends half his time thinking or talking about how much I want a steak with cheese, it is pretty obvious that Costa Rica and Romelia must be pretty special if I am willing to sacrifice it all to be here.

My time here at Romelia might be ending early but there is not a thing that I would change (apart from waiting until my plane ride to Costa Rica to begin learning Spanish).  As with anything, it’s not so much about what you are doing but who you are doing it with.  The volunteers, field assistants, managers, staff and the various other people that I have met on this trip are responsible for my amazing time here.

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone and I look forward to having you all visit me for a barbecue on my houseboat in Australia.  Also to anyone reading this thinking about joining the family at Romelia, just do it. You will not regret it.

Luke (Also known as Kinka or Mowgli)

Voluntariado en Refugio Romelia

Volunteering in MontezumaEl Refugio Mixto de Vida Silvestre Romelia, fue creado en el mes de noviembre 1998, con la idea de proteger los recursos naturales de una zona, los cuales habían sufrido bastante a través de los años debido a las actividades de tala y de ganadería intensiva. Además la región comenzaba a mostrar evidencia de un desarrollo turístico acelerado, por lo que su creación vino a resguardar los ecosistemas naturales de la región.

Se encuentra ubicado en la Península de Nicoya, en el cantón de Puntarenas, distrito Cóbano, a unos 3 km al este de la Escuela de la comunidad de Montezuma.

La misión del refugio es ser un territorio dedicado a la conservación, la investigación y el manejo de los ecosistemas costeros de playas Cocal y Cocalito, asimismo ofrece dentro de sus servicios ambientales espacios para la recreación, la educación ambiental y uso sostenible de los recursos naturales.

Al ser un refugio de categoría mixta, cuenta con tierras del estado (aproximadamente 67 ha, de la zona marítimo terrestre) y con tierras de propiedad privada, siendo estas la de mayor extensión, cubriendo una superficie de 157 hectáreas 857m2, para un total de 224 hectáreas 8349 m2. No obstante, la administración y las actividades de conservación recaen casi totalmente en esfuerzos particulares.

El Refugio se ubica en la zona de vida conocida como bosque húmedo tropical (bh-T), cuyas características son: bosques semicaducifolio o perennifolio, alto de varios estratos, generalmente tres bien diferenciados. Precipitación entre 1950 y 3000 mm anuales y  temperatura media anual de entre 24 y 27 ºC. En la región de Cóbano el bh-T presenta una época seca. La vegetación natural del bh-T son árboles de 40 a 50 metros de altura en su mayoría de copas anchas y altas, de tallos delgados, generalmente de menos de 100 cm de dap, sin ramas hasta 25 a 35 metros, a menudo con gambas altas y lisas, de corteza de color claro.

Dentro de los principales ecosistemas vegetativos, en Romelia se pueden encontrar:

Pastizales, remanentes del antiguo uso pastoril que se le daba al área.

“Yolillal”, conformado principalmente por palmas en las zonas inundables del Refugio.

Bosque costero, formando una línea a lo largo de la línea costera del área protegida.

Bosque ripario, comunidades boscosa creciendo a la orilla de afluentes.

Bosque secundario, resultado de la regeneración natural del Refugio.

Bosque primario o remanente del bosque original de sitio.

En monitores ecológicos e inventarios rápidos, se han desarrollado listas preliminares de la fauna presente en el Refugio, en donde se reportaron 57 especies de aves, 7 especies de anfibios, 13 especies de reptiles y 27 especies de mamíferos terrestres más 11 de murciélagos.


Con base en lo mencionado anteriormente es que se está trabajando en la implementación de varios proyectos de conservación, desarrollados por el personal del Refugio, así como de la ayuda generosa de voluntarios de todas partes del mundo que vienen a aportar su colaboración:

N.Ingalls-8487Proyecto de conservación de tortugas marinas, el cual es uno de los proyectos insignia del Refugio. Con este proyecto se pretende monitorear la actividad anidatoria de las poblaciones de tortugas marinas que llegan a anidar a las playas del Refugio. Además de brindarle protección a las nidadas. Las tareas en este proyecto incluyen la construcción de vivero, patrullas nocturnas y/o matutinas para determinar la actividad de anidación y colecta de datos relacionados a la población de hembras anidantes, colecta y traslado de nidos, marcaje de nidos in situ, vigilancia del vivero las 24 horas del día, liberación de neonatos, otras. Se implementa de junio a enero.

Screen shot 2012-03-05 at 9.33.16 PMViñedo, se mantiene un viñedo con el propósito de preservar una tradición que se ha venido llevando a cabo desde hace más de veinte años. Los trabajos que se realizan en este proyecto son de forma artesanal y de bajo impacto. Las principales actividades que se llevan a cabo son la poda y limpieza de vides, cosecha y preparación de vino. Se trabaja de setiembre a marzo.

SUNP0073Monitoreo de mamíferos terrestres, este pequeño proyecto que todavía se encuentra en una fase temprana de ejecución pretende generar información sobre las poblaciones de mamíferos terrestres, medianos y grandes. Datos como la distribución, diversidad y uso de hábitat son algunos de los que se esperan colectar a lo largo del tiempo. Las labores contemplan caminatas matutinas y nocturnas por senderos, preparación de parcelas de huellas, limpieza de senderos, colocación y revisión de cámaras trampa. Estos trabajos se estarían realizando a lo largo de todo el año.

Además, se realizan otro tipo de actividades de forma permanente, dependiendo de las necesidades del momento, así como del recurso son que se cuente. Estas actividades son: huerta orgánica, control y protección dentro del áreas del Refugio, monitoreos rápidos de flora y otro tipo de fauna, trabajos de limpieza de playas, educación ambiental, mejoras y mantenimiento de senderos y de la rotulación, rehabilitación de ecosistemas (reforestación, erradicación de especies invasoras) entre otras.

Voluntarios trabajando en Rotulacion Montezuma, Provincia de Puntarenas, Costa Rica _MG_1743 _MG_1769 04.03.13 (27)

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