Safeguarding Whales and Dolphins in Costa Rica

Golfo Dulce in Costa Rica is home to a vulnerable community of whales and dolphins. To protect them, researchers must collect information about their habitat and interaction with humans. Join us to record marine mammal behavior, investigate environmental conditions, and grow our photo ID catalog. On land, you’ll also hike along rivers to collect information about mangrove forests and palm oil plantations.

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What to Expect?

Join researchers in the pristine wilds of Costa Rican fjords and rainforests to conduct critical research on whales and dolphins in the region. Your findings may help to develop a permanent Marine Protected Area to ensure the area’s health for the future.

Golfo Dulce, a tropical “inner sea” on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, is home to very important resident and migratory communities of spotted and bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales. This pristine region has remained almost untouched by tourism, which is still at its early stages. This Expedition will investigate the susceptibility of dolphins and whales to habitat disruption by coastal development and tourism mismanagement. The ultimate goal for this project is to promote a Marine Protected Area within Golfo Dulce which safeguards reproductive and feeding grounds, while at the same time promoting sustainable use of resources in buffer areas surrounding critical habitats.

The research team, composed of resident marine biologists along with undergraduate and graduate Costa Rican students, will involve volunteers in all field activities including cetacean observation (from the surface), data collection and data entry. Upon arrival at the base camp, you will receive an orientation and intensive training on cetacean behavior observation and sampling. Each day, you’ll work in teams of two to document dolphin and whale group size, composition, and behavior through observations taken from a 27-foot motor boat. You’ll record vessel and dolphin positions with a handheld GPS unit, and note water surface temperature and sea state. While aboard the boat, you’ll also be taking photos of cetaceans, which may be included in the Photo ID catalog of the project. Back at the research station, you’ll help to sort pictures from each species before making ID assessments for individual recognition.

When you’re not at sea, you may help confirm the accuracy of satellite images of area mangrove forests and African palm oil plantations. This will involve hiking along the banks of rivers from the mouth to about 8–10 km upstream or along the coastline. You may also help develop educational material or participate in presentations and educational activities for local schools and stakeholder groups.

  • Program ID: # 2066
  • duration:
    1 to 2 Weeks
  • location:
    Golfo Dulce Puerto Jimenez
    Costa Rica
    8° 28' 9.0408" N, 83° 12' 27.9504" W
  • Fitness level:
    Light Impact
    Moderately Fit
    Very Fit
  • Closest Airport:
    Please contact program
  • Costs From:
    $1500 to $3000
  • Program Type:
    Environmental & Wildlife Programs
  • Click Here for More Info

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