Marine Mammals and Predators in Costa Rica

Ocean Health

Marine Mammals and Predators in Costa Rica

Climb aboard a motorboat and sail a tropical “inner sea” in search of endangered dolphins and whales in Costa Rica.

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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

Information gathered will support our ultimate goal: the establishment of a Marine Protected Area for cetaceans.

Help protect vulnerable populations of whales and dolphins from mismanagement of coastal development.


Golfo Dulce is among the best-preserved marine habitats within the Osa Peninsula’s marine ecosystem and provides an ideal habitat for marine top predators such as whales, dolphins, sharks, and rays.

The natural beauty of the Golfo Dulce area is important to the local economy – a small, but growing tourist industry ­– plays a crucial role. Many development projects are trying to capitalize on those incredible natural attributes – a trend that is already bringing negative consequences.

There is mounting evidence that Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) increase the health and abundance of key marine species, and are therefore considered to be one of the best ways to safeguard the health of coastal ecosystems. But to designate Golfo Dulce as an MPA, scientists first need to understand and demonstrate the importance of this ecosystem.

For more than 10 years, scientists have gathered data on species such as migratory humpback whales, and resident bottlenose and pantropical spotted dolphins in this marine habitat to evaluate their abundance and distribution. Now, they need to deepen this understanding within an ecosystem-based context and explore the ecological role of other species within a major predatory guild. We need to understand the non-mammal predatory structure of the ecosystem.

The preservation of the beauty and well-being of Golfo Dulce’s marine ecosystem benefits everyone—it can help local agencies manage tourism in the area in a sustainable way, which will generate income for the local community and give tourists the opportunity to learn about one of Costa Rica’s great treasures without destroying it. The research conducted by Earthwatch teams will help scientists to assess the importance of this marine habitat. 

About the research area

Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica, Central America & The Caribbean

Daily life in the field


This is a summary:

The Scientists


Lenin E.
Oviedo Correa
Chief Scientific Advisor and Research Associate, Center for Cetacean Research of Costa Rica

ABOUT Lenin E. Oviedo Correa

Earthwatch researcher Lenin E. Oviedo Correa studies Costa Rica’s whales and dolphins to help conserve their habitat.


Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food


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