Home to dozens of marine species, including the four turtles known to nest in the Osa, two species of dolphins, and even Whale Sharks, Gulfo Dulce is an incredible addition to the biodiverse rainforest that surrounds it (Bessesen, 2011).
An inlet, protected from the rough waters of the Pacific, and with waters as deep as 300 meters, it is the perfect birthing spot for many animals, especially the majestic Humpback Whale (Golfo Dulce).
This calm water paradise is also a beautiful and popular boating spot for locals and tourists, and Crocodile Bay Resort plans on creating a new marina and luxury hotel resort to attract more people to this stunning region.
Unfortunately, conservationists and local biologists predict that the size of the marina will create more disturbance than benefit, and will cause harm to the marine life of the bay. Increased fishing and boating will increase noise pollution, drowning out communication between marine wildlife trying to find mates or calves calling out to their mothers (Noise Pollution in the Sea).
Crocodile Bay Resort claims that their project would create 400 new direct jobs and 400-800 more indirect jobs. Locals counter that those jobs will largely be for English speaking non-Osa native people. Then there’s the issue of transportation, which will require parking lots be built; and sediment runoff from vehicles can occur as well. This runoff can be a toxic addition to the bay, harming marine wildlife around the new hotel and marina (Bessesen). Despite the allusion of some benefits, there appear to be more arguments against a much larger marina.
A recent article in The Tico Times describes a court ruling in favor of conservation by disallowing building on the new hotel for the time being. The ruling, after an appeal was made by local conservation groups, states that until the court can be absolutely certain that the building will not cause any harm to the environment, no initial construction can take place. The previous data that had been used in the court had been supplied by independent Crocodile Bay researchers and, as our own Manuel Ramirez explains, “…their environmental studies consider the impact of each part individually, but they do not consider the environmental impact as a whole (Arias).” These studies skew the results in favor of promoting the marina. Each part of these studies makes it seem like the effects are very small, but multiply that by the number of projects that this build will include and it will have the propensity to have a significant effect..
An important example of this possible detriment is increased sightings of bottlenosed dolphins with skin lesions. As Brooke Bessesen, recipient of Osa Conservation’s Greg Gund Scholarship the last two years , goes further into in her summary and report , these lesions are very likely Lobo-mycosis, a chronic dermal fungus that is likely the result of chemical and organic pollutants caused by human activity and runoff (Bessesen).
This entire issue has also spurred the organization of the community into The Community Front of Gulfo Dulce . This effort by the local community attempts to promote awareness of what the concerns for this build are and how it will affect the environment in a negative way. The effort was created to get a manifesto signed and brought to the government in order to stay their hand and have more research be done before this detrimental project was undertaken.
With the passing of this new verdict and through the efforts of the Community Front of Gulfo Dulce there is a new hope in preventing the expansion of the detrimental hotel resort and large marina. In the long run, hopefully this will maintain healthy and constant population levels, and keep the bay the amazingly diverse and spectacular place it is today.
By Max Kampe
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