Iguana on the way to the beach
Photo courtesy of Meg Warren/Earthwatch Institute
Iguanas, Howler Monkeys, and More!
by Meg Warren

Leatherback turtles are not the only attraction at Playa Grande. There are several resident iguanas and other wildlife here too.

I have been very interested in observing the iguanas since I have never seen them in the wild. One particular iguana appears regularly around our living area, either in the branches hanging above the driveway or on the path to the lab. He (or she) disappears quickly into a drain pipe as soon as you come near.

The other iguana hangs out on the rock wall by the road to the beach. I was able to get about three feet away to take this photo, before the iguana vanished into a hole in the rocks.

The howler monkeys are much less shy than the iguanas. You know they are nearby when you hear a sound like ARUGH ARUGH ARUGH... The call sounds like dogs barking except the "bark" is distinctly throaty and low down. It's a wonderful sound and impossible not to imitate once you hear it.

The howlers get especially excited when a car or truck drives into the driveway. They flit from branch to branch, howling out what sounds like disapproval. When I start imitating them, "ARUGH ARUGH ARUGH," the monkeys get even more excited.

In addition to leatherbacks, iguanas, and howler monkeys, I have seen:

  • parrots
  • raccoons
  • skunks (unfortunately, I got sprayed by a baby skunk!)
  • fish (small ones swimming around the rocks in a nearby "black sand" beach)
  • lots of different kinds crabs
  • sea urchins
  • scorpions
  • leafcutter ants
  • butterflies
  • many spiders
  • mosquitoes and "no-see-ums" (a little gnat that no one can see)

Fortunately, the bush master snake has remained out of sight!