Ocean Health

Safeguarding Whales and Dolphins 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. Since 2005, researchers have been collecting baseline data on the pan-tropical spotted dolphin and bottlenose dolphin and the migratory humpback whale.

The dolphin populations make their homes in this relatively small area, which means that they are especially vulnerable to habitat disruption from mismanaged coastal development and tourism. Already, one dolphin community shows signs of a fungal skin condition that seems linked to heavy resort development and boat traffic and to agricultural pollution.

Our observations and sound recordings of the whales suggest that the gulf serves as a key habitat for their reproduction. Therefore, humpbacks are often at their most vulnerable in this environment. We will assess the robustness of the population and design management plans to support its continued health.

Dolphin, Costa Rica

Observe dolphin behavior in the calm water of Golfo Dulce.

The information gathered will support our ultimate goal: the establishment of a Marine Protected Area for cetaceans. Preservation of the beauty and health of the marine ecosystem in Golfo Dulce, including local dolphin and whale populations, will continue to attract tourists and generate income for the local and national community.

About the research area

Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica, Central America & The Caribbean

Daily life in the field


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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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