Marine Conservation, Science and Research

Osa Conservation Supports Research in Golfo Dulce: Drawing Conclusions

Mogos Islands mark the highest waters of Golfo Dulce.

By Brooke Bessesen

While Jorge and I both loved working on the water, the results of our research brought the greatest rewards. Golfo Dulce is a true bio-gem—one of Costa Rica’s preeminent riches. Several hundred Green sea turtles, critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtles, Olive Ridley sea turtles and (reportedly) Pacific Leatherback sea turtles, rest, feed, mate and nest in the gulf. A rare xanthic colony of pelagic sea snakes resides around the inner basin. Both Northern and Southern Hemisphere Humpback whales enter the inlet to give birth and possibly provide sanctuary for young calves. Whale sharks aggregate in Golfo Dulce. Resident dolphins and other toothed cetaceans breed and raise offspring. Scalloped hammerhead sharks are born there and needlefish spawn. What a remarkably vibrant bionetwork!

But marine ecosystems around the world are breaking down at alarming rates. Change comes quickly and protection often too late. Golfo Dulce is on the cusp of change. As the Osa region grows in popularity and population, competition for resources will undoubtedly intensify. The delicate gulf ecosystem will have to cope with escalating pressures from urbanization, commercial development, special interests, and tourism. Incurred damage could prove irreversible, and since Golfo Dulce appears to play a considerable role in the reproduction of many species, the embayment’s welfare may even impact the ecology of the broader eastern Pacific.

“Knowledge is power,” surmised Sir Francis Bacon. Scientists strive to uncover accurate details about the world. Those details, once shared, can help people make more informed decisions. With the help of many local community members, fishermen and guides, and the critical support of Osa Conservation and the Greg Gund Memorial Fund, our data may now serve to enlighten discussions about in situ conservation.

Thank you for joining me for this blog series. I truly hope it enhanced your appreciation for Golfo Dulce and inspired you to support the mission of Osa Conservation, “to protect the Osa Peninsula’s globally significant biodiversity” and safeguard this rare tropical fiord.

Brooke Bessesen conducted Marine research at the Osa in 2010 and 2011 as a recipient of the Greg Gund Memorial Fellowship. Check out her Golfo Dulce report on our website. Thank you very much, Brooke, for your insightful contributions to our blog!

To learn more about marine conservation and current affairs on the Golfo Dulce, check out Andrea Johnson’s latest post about the proposed Crocodile Bay Marina project, and Ramy Zabarah’s recent post recounting a kayak tour through the gulf’s mangrove forest.