Costa Rica’s marine protected areas help save world oceans

Dolphins in Golfo Dulce Costa Rica

Costa Rica just expanded its ocean conservation to protect 15% of its marine territory. You can experience one of Costa Rica’s most pristine ocean habitats in the gulf of Golfo Dulce.

Golfo Dulce Costa Rica
The spectacularly beautiful gulf of Golfo Dulce in Costa Rica.

In honor of World Oceans Day 2017, Costa Rica this month has expanded its protected seas and pledged to fight marine pollution in the form of single-use plastic.

The country now protects slightly more than 15% of its territorial waters under conservation, joining the United Nations Environment Program in its goal to preserve one-tenth of all oceans by 2020.

“As a nation between two shores, the Caribbean and the Pacific, Costa Rica is conscious of the immeasurable benefits that these waters bring to life on Earth. With this in mind, we are striving to become a plastic-free zone and to expand marine protected areas, along with models of local governance to manage fisheries and tourism in a sustainable manner,” said Luis Guillermo Solís, President of Costa Rica, at the Global Dialogue on Oceans that the country hosted with the UN Environment Program on June 8 for World Oceans Day 2017.

After joining the global UN Clean Seas campaign earlier this year, Costa Rica has pledged to fight plastic marine debris and to replace single-use plastic – which can take hundreds of years to degrade – with renewable and compostable materials. The goal is that, by 2021, at least 80 percent of the country’s public agencies, municipalities and businesses replace their disposable plastic packaging with materials that have a lower environmental impact.

“Recent studies from international agencies estimate that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea,” stated Costa Rica’s Environment Vice Minister Fernando Mora.

Dolphins in Golfo Dulce Costa Rica
Dolphins in the gulf of Golfo Dulce in southern Costa Rica.

Costa Rica’s Spectacular Marine Habitat of Golfo Dulce

The Pacific gulf of Golfo Dulce is one of the most pristine ocean habitats in Costa Rica. Located in the southern region by the Osa Peninsula, Golfo Dulce is considered a tropical fjord with an average annual temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit, an extremely rare biome. Environmental organizations are lobbying to make Golfo Dulce another of Costa Rica’s marine protected areas.

Its calm and very clear jade green-blue water makes it easy to see abundant marine life. More than 25 species of dolphins and whales and four kinds of sea turtles live here; and it is a vital breeding and birthing zone for endangered hammerhead sharks and migrating endangered Humpback Whales.

Humpback whale in Golfo Dulce Costa Rica
Humpback whale in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica. Whale watching season begins in July.

One of the best places to experience the Golfo Dulce is at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge. Nicuesa Lodge’s entire philosophy and operations are based on environmental conservation and sustainability. The extraordinary rainforest eco-lodge holds the highest Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) in Costa Rica and the prestigious TripAdvisor GreenLeaders Platinum Status. And they have received the Ecological Blue Flag Award six years in a row for keeping one of the cleanest beaches in Costa Rica.

A stunning tropical escape, Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge specializes in natural vacation adventures catering to travelers interested in ecotourism, nature, and adventure sports.

Article by Shannon Farley

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