Costa Rica News – Park rangers will be reinforcing their sea patrols in the Marino Ballena National Park and in the Isla del Coco, with a view to regulating the amount of tourist activity during the whales’ high migration season, which is going on until October.
“The members of the Association of Tourism Operators (Asotu) of the Ballena Bay are organised, and they work with sustainable practices, but they’re not the only ones who have access to the marine area”, explained Ólger Méndez, from the Área de Conservación Osa (Acosa).
For Méndez, the objective of increasing the sea presence is so that they can monitor the extent to which regulations are being followed when it comes to observing cetaceans (executive decree no. 32.495).
These regulations prohibit the use of boats to harass the animals, since it can have an adverse effect of changing the creatures’ behavior.
The decree establishes minimum distances in how close visitors can get to the animals and it decides how many boats can come into contact, as well as rules for engine management, considering how sensitive dolphins and whales are to the noise.
In support of this work, the Asociación Costa Rica por Siempre (ACRXS) donated ¢40 million to the Marino Ballena National Park.
According to Pamela Castillo, a lawyer for ACRXS, with this money they will be able to purchase equipment which will allow the park rangers to monitor divers and snorkelers, since these are activities which can make the ecosystem particularly vulnerable – especially around coral reefs.
The funds will also be used for providing education programs so that visitors can be made more aware of the impact of responsible tourism.
The donation is hoped to stretch further still, providing the rangers with a biological monitor for keeping track of the fish populations in protected areas, and for putting a stop to illegal fishing.
After travelling 8,000km from the southern hemisphere, the humpback whales (Megaptera novaeagliae) come to Costa Rican waters to give birth to their calves.
This migration marks the beginning of the whale watching season, which extends from July to October in the Ballena and Drake Bays in Osa, Puntarenas.
As is tradition, the Ballena Bay will be having its Dolphin and Whale Festival across two weekends: from the 5th to the 7th and from the 12th to the 14th September.
On these festival days, Asotu will be offering two-hour long tours to see these marine mammals.
For Costa Rican tourists, the tour will cost ¢20,000 (adults) and ¢10,000 (children). Visitors from outside Costa Rica will be charged an additional $6 as their entrance to the park.
Tours must be reserved (telephone numbers: 2743-8562 and 8729-3624).
The festival will also offer sporting activities such as mountain biking and athletics competitions, cultural events such as concerts, sandcastle competitions and environmental workshops.
Translated by Leah Hendre from La Nacion