Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula is a hotspot for humpback whales and migratory animals such as hammerhead sharks, manta rays, and sea turtles. Currently, these ocean animals are facing deadly hazards in these waters. The threats come from plastic pollution, agricultural effluent, entanglement in ghost nets, and long lines from industrial fishing. Mission Blue — an organisation founded in 2009 by Rolex Testimonee Slyvia Earle — has now designated the area as a Hope Spot.
In partnership with Mission Blue and through its Perpetual Planet initiative, Rolex shares a mutual commitment to explore, restore, and safeguard the world’s ocean — in this case, the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica. Once described by National Geographic as the “most biologically intense place on Earth”, the Osa Peninsula (now called the Biological Marine Corridor of Osa) houses a diverse cluster of ecosystems essential for the survival of marine life. “These areas host breeding and feeding areas for a number of species of whales and thousands of other organisms like sharks, tunas, and the little creatures upon which all the rest are based. By supporting the full protection of this corridor of life along the Osa Peninsula, life itself will be enhanced,” says Mission Blue founder and Rolex Testimonee Sylvia Earle.
According to Carlos Mallo Molina, a Mission Blue Champion and founder of Innoceana (a marine conservation NGO in Costa Rica), the waters already have some protection as there are Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) around the Marino Ballena National Park, Terraba-Sierpe National Wetlands, Caño Island Biological Reserve, and Corcovado National Park. However, greater protection is needed for the effective protection of marine life.
“The current MPAs need to be expanded to cover a corridor between them,” Mallo Molina says. “These MPAs don’t currently touch, leaving migrating marine life vulnerable between the gaps. If we want to establish effective protection for the marine life that migrates through Costa Rica’s waters, we need to apply thorough protection across the entire area.” Through Mission Blue, the team is working to accelerate the creation of an MPA. It will also coordinate advocacy events, meet government leaders, and pursue scientific activities related to conservation in collaboration with local organisations, community associations, businesses, and authorities.
“Restoring the marine ecosystem off the Osa Peninsula will enrich the local community economically, physically, and mentally,” explains Mallo Molina. “Artisanal fishermen will be in a better place, thanks to a healthy coral reef and mangroves. With the prohibition of industrial fishing, dive sites will be more attractive, strengthening the local ecotourism industry. It would mean a win-win for all life here, including for humans.”