Marine Mammals and Predators in Costa Rica
Join researchers in the pristine wilds of Costa Rica to conduct critical research on marine mammals. Your findings may help to develop a permanent marine protected area.
Golfo Dulce, a narrow inlet on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, provides a rich habitat for cetaceans (whales and dolphins). It remains fairly pristine, since the many tourists who visit Costa Rica each year haven’t quite discovered it yet—which makes now a crucial time to investigate what the ecosystem needs to remain healthy. By understanding the behavior and tracking the abundance of the marine mammals and predators in this region, we can ensure we have the information needed to best protect them when tourism starts in earnest in this beautiful, wild place.
For about a decade, this project has gathered information on three species of cetacean in the gulf: the pantropical spotted dolphin, the bottlenose dolphin, and the humpback whale. In studying these cetacean species, researchers hope to understand how to preserve the entirety of this beautiful marine ecosystem.
This project is now entering a new stage and will be expanding to understand of how the entire Golfo Dulce ecosystem functions by gathering data of the presence of other top predators.
Through this research, and with your volunteer involvement, this project will help to develop conservation plans to protect the marine biodiversity in the gulf in the future.
A Typical Itinerary
- DAY 1: Arrival, orientation, training
- DAY 2: Training on dolphin and whale behavior sampling and dolphin photo-identification
- DAYS 3–7: Dolphin & whale surveys, photo-ID work
- DAY 8: Time off to explore or photo-ID work at camp
- DAY 9: Departure
HOW YOU WILL HELP
MONITOR WHALES AND DOLPHINS
By boat, you will follow groups of dolphins and whales. When someone spots a cetacean, you'll document its GPS location, size, and behavior (e.g., feeding, traveling).
RECORD TROPHIC WEB
Document and describe the species in multi-predator assemblages by observing aggregations of schooling fish and their predators, such as dolphins, seabirds, sharks, and rays.
Back on land, you’ll help sort pictures of each dolphin species so that scientists can identify individuals using the unique scars, notches and other markings on their dorsal fins. The researchers know the dolphins in the gulf especially well, so expect to hear stories about some of their most memorable encounters.
Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.
6 Reviews on this Expedition
The story of a marine predator that has inspired both fear and fascination for generations.
In Playa Grande, Costa Rica, more than 20 years of egg poaching consumed a generation of leatherback sea turtles.