Park rangers have announced that they will be reinforcing sea patrols within the Marino Ballena National Park as well as within the Isla del Coco. The move comes as part of an effort to regulate the amount of tourist activity occurring during the high migration season of whales, which will last throughout the month of October.
With an increased sea presence, Park rangers hope to be able to more closely monitor the extent to which regulations are being followed. Such regulations prohibit the use of watercraft for harassing the migrating animals, due to the negative effect it can have on the whales’ behavior. Regulations further establish minimum distances regarding how close tourists are able to get to the whales. The number of boats that are allowed to come into contact with the animals is also limited in an effort to further protect the animals. In consideration of the sensitivity that wales and dolphins have to noise, there are also regulations in place regarding engine management.
In support of continued sustainability practices and protection of the animals, the Asociación Costa Rica por Siempre (ACRXS) has donated ¢40 million to the Marino Ballena National Park.
An attorney for ACRXS has stated that the funds will be put toward purchasing new equipment that will make it possible for park rangers to monitor snorkelers and divers more closely. This is crucial to the protection of the animals and the local ecosystem as such activities can make the ecosystem particularly vulnerable, especially the area near coral reefs. In addition, the funds will be used for developing educational programs that will seek to make tourists more aware of the importance of responsible tourism.
If the funds are able to extend so far, rangers hope to be able to obtain a biological monitor that will assist in tracking fish populations within protected areas and to put an end to illegal fishing activities that have historically plagued the local area.
Humpback whales travel approximately 8,000 kilometers from the southern hemisphere to Costa Rica, where they give birth to their calves in the waters just offshore. This migration takes place at the beginning of the whale-watching season, which lasts from the beginning of July through October in the Drake and Ballena Bays in Osa, Puntarenas and coincides with a popular tourist season to the area. According to tradition, Ballena Bay will be hosting its Dolphin and Whale Festival on the weekends of the 5th through the 7th and 12th through the 14th of September. During those festival days, two-hour long tours will be offered by Asotu in order to provide visitors with the opportunity to see these enchanting marine mammals. The tours cost ¢20,000 for adults and ¢10,000 for children for visitors in Costa Rica. Visitors from outside Costa Rica will be charged an additional park entrance fee of $6. An array of other activities will be available during the festival, including cultural events, sandcastle competitions, concerts, environmental workshops, athletic competitions, and more.