Contribution starting at $2,650
Exported from Streamline App (https://app.streamlineicons.com)
9 days (avg. $294 a day) Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs
Ocean Health

Marine Mammals and Predators in Costa Rica

Location
Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica Map it
Activity Level
Easy
Accommodations
Local Lodge
Food
Shared meals
Special diets accommodated
Staff-prepared meals
whale in costa rica
volunteers on a boat in costa rica
ocean view in costa rica
dolphins and marine mammals of costa rica
study dolphins off costa rica
earthwatch volunteers observe dolphins and other marine mammals
costa rica
whale in costa rica
volunteers on a boat in costa rica
ocean view in costa rica
dolphins and marine mammals of costa rica
study dolphins off costa rica
earthwatch volunteers observe dolphins and other marine mammals
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.


Earthwatch volunteers in costa rica

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

 

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HOW YOU WILL HELP

In this beautiful tropical setting, you will:

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monitor whales and dolphins
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 data
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.
PHOTO-IDENTIFY INDIVIDUALS

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.

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FEEDBACK & QUESTIONS

6 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
Susan Ashburn | January 5, 2023
Our location on the Gulfo Dolce was exceptionally beautiful. The food was wonderful and nutritious, with local dishes and with lots of fresh fruits. I loved the fresh fruit juice every morning along with the coffee. We were a well-matched volunteer team of two. David, who headed the project for us, was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about this research and conservation effort. His ability to utilize volunteers’ abilities and to share the joy in our experiences was exceptional. We were out on the water for ~ 4 hours each morning and saw cetaceans 5 of 6 days. These included bottlenose dolphins, spotted dolphins, and false killer whales. We had lunch and rested after returning to land. We did data entry late afternoon. We met via video with [Lead Scientist] Dr. Lenin to learn more about the project and review our day’s data. Always, dinner was delicious. Evenings were relaxing with a beautiful night sky and fireflies
Antoinette Judelsohn | January 5, 2023
This expedition to Costa Rica was one of the most exhilarating experiences I've ever had. I'm not typically a water person, however, I loved our time in the boat. The sky and clouds were gorgeous and the breeze was refreshing and cooling from the heat of the day. Then a dolphin or two or three or an entire pod is spotted and the excitement and thrill of witnessing these amazing creatures in their natural habitat are just out of this world. We were busy taking photos and videos of them along with documenting valuable data on location, species, water temperature, etc. We were like children waking up to the best Christmas ever. And it was wonderful to have both [Field Team Leader] David and the boat captain thrilled as much as we were. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to witness a group of male dolphins putting on a spectacular performance to attract female attention. They were literally flying in the air. So many of them, one right after the other or two or three at the same time. Made me wish I were a wildlife photographer. In the early evening, we had zoom classes with [Lead Scientist] Lenin Enrique Oviedo Correa who filled in a lot of detailed information on biological data to sustain the preservation of this critical habitat. You could feel his love and dedication for Golfo Dulce and its cetaceans. We were fed very well by Azucena who prepared our 3 daily meals all gluten-free. Accommodations are very basic so one needs to be prepared with that which we pretty much were from previous travel experiences. On our day off [Field Team Leader] David made arrangements for us to hike into the rainforest with a guide. David also accompanied us to ensure our safety and interpret and explain some wonders of the rainforest. When we left for our flight back to San Jose, David stayed with us until we got on the plane. We were very much taken care of. All in all, a fabulous experience!
Rachel Wildman | September 12, 2017
This expedition was a fantastic, once in a lifetime experience! It was really interesting to learn about the potential impacts to the whales and dolphins in Golfo Dulce and how the work that Lenin and David are doing can help reduce that impact. I learned a lot about what they do as scientists and it was really great to feel like I was actually helping to further their research. They are very protective of these dolphins and whales and that was contagious for all of us. Going out on the boat to see the dolphins and whales up close was a highlight - I got a picture of a baby whale with his mouth open! So cute! Also, fishing with the long line was an unexpected fun activity - we caught a small tiger shark, inspected and measured it, then put it back. What other trip would you go on where you could do that?? This was an excellent trip! So glad I went.

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