Costa Rica Blog
Costa Rica Blog

Costa Rican Wildlife Update: New Species of Crab Found on Coco Island

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Costa Rica wildlife is known for being some of the most fascinating in the world.  The latest discovery of a land-based crab on Coco Island, located on the extreme southern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, is further proof of the country’s incredible variety of flora and fauna. Home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity, it’s clear that there are still many hidden wonders to be discovered in Costa Rica.

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Costa Rica Wildlife: New Species Discovery

The new species of Johngarthia cocoensis land crab is only found on the Isla de Coco, a protected island located 330 miles South West of Cabo Blanco National Park, Guanacaste. Along with the Allacanthos yawi crab, there are now two land crabs that are unique to Costa Rica.

The new species closely resembles other species of land crab, but was identifiable because of its large size and robust shell.  Thanks to their island habitat, the male crab of this species can reach up to 40cm in length. Living on land on Coco Island, the crabs burrow holes into the sand where they spend the majority of their time only leaving to feed on

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plants and seeds.


Crabs Have Adapted to Coco Island’s Unique Habitat

This new species of Costa Rican crab bears similarities to other types, such as the J. malpilensis found on nearby islands such as Malpelo in Columbia, leading scientists to conclude that both have a common ancestor that could have been dispersed by the ocean currents.  Once they became established on the Isla de Coco, they then began to adapt to the islands conditions. Coco Island is the only oceanic island in the eastern Pacific with a tropical rain forest.

The important discovery was made by Robert Perger from the Center for Research in Ocean Sciences and Limnology (Cimar-UCR), along with Rita Vargas from the University of Costa Rica Museum of Zoology, and Adam Wall of the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum.

Nearly 30% of flowering plants on Coco Island National Park are endemic, as well as 65 species of insects and two species of lizard.


Isla de Coco, Costa Rica, World Heritage Site

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Isla de Coco is one of Costa Rica’s protected National Parks and was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1997. The famous Jacque Cousteau, explorer, ecologist and filmmaker, stated that Coco Island Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Coco Island was short-listed as a candidate to be one of the New Seven Wonders of the World by The New Seven Wonders of the World Foundation. As of June 2009 it is ranking second in the islands category.

Coco Island was also made famous by the 1993 movie Jurassic Park, when it was featured in several scenes as the island housing the dinosaur theme park.


Available Costa Rica Tours to Coco Island

  • Thanks to its truly unique characteristics Coco Islandoffers the ultimate in Costa Rica scuba diving and
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    snorkeling adventures. Thanks to its deep waters this is world class scuba diving location where you can swim with hammerhead sharks, manta rays, dolphins, sailfish, and sea turtles.  It should be noted that Cocos Island was named one of the best 10 scuba diving spots in the world by PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors)

  • Coco Island is also steeped in history, and rumored to be home to pirates buried treasure.


Source Credit: La Nacion 20th June – Expertos hallan nueva especie de cangrejo terrestre en Isla de Coco


For more information about tours to Coco Island please contact Escape Villas at 1-888-771-2976 or at