Pulau Mantanani: plastic paradise

Written by Xurxo Fernández, journalist at La Voz de Galicia
Parecía un paraíso...

It looked like paradise…

Very early, before the the boats filled with tourists arrive, a barefoot and shirtless boy pushes a wheelbarrow through the sand. He stops and starts picking up the trash that accumulated the previous day, zigzagging up to the dining table outside. He works meticulously to remove all waste from the access to the hotel, about ten meters wide. The section is short, so he is able to finish soon and he abandones the imaginary path. He moves away from the hotel and pushes his wheelbarrow to the sea.

When the first wheel touches the crystaline water, the boy turns thewheelbarrow nad throughs all contents to the ocean. Bottles, wrappers, food scraps, even a broken sandal, stay together briefly before separating according to their buoyancy. Most plastic floats back to shore, but out of sight. At least out of the sight of the tens of diving enthusiasts who will barely spend half a day on the island, before returning home. Continue reading

Get the ball rolling

Written by Alonso Muñoz, founder of the Campaign The Truth About Plastic

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My interest on the subject of solid waste was born several years ago. I remember one morning when I was still a student, I waited for the garbage truck to follow it and know for certain what happened to the hundreds of bags it collected, week after week, in my neighborhood. Overwhelmed with what I saw, I researched in the subject to realize that the reality was much worse than what I thought, and the more I learned, the more I became convinced of the the need to do something about it.

Willing to try, in 2012 I wrote this letter to the Managers of Coca Cola and the beer factory (Florida Bebidas) proposing a decrease of the plastic their companies introduce to the environment in their presentations of bottled water. The excessive amount of plastic is a matter of concern for many and from the day I published it, dozens of people signed it and the shared. It was thus that one month after its publication I received an email from the Coca Cola inviting me to their office to discuss the issue. Continue reading

Plastic beaches of Costa Rica

Written by Jacquelyn Burmeister, US biology student
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La naturaleza no puede absorber todo lo que desechamos en ella, por más que lo intente

Since I was little I always wanted to visit Costa Rica. I was told of the wonders of its nature, like its lovely beaches, its imposing jungle and majestic volcanoes. Those were the reasons that led my interest in this land. As the years passed, and my career in Biology progressed, I gained knowledge of the environmental conservation efforts of the country on mangroves, turtles carbon neutrality. That was the decisive factor for my decision to visit your beautiful country, a country that has everything and protects it, which makes it a model for the world. Continue reading

Joy that can be appraised

Written by Andrés Beita, marine biologist

Who doesn’t enjoy a short trip over the weekend? Last August I took advantage of both Mother’s Day and dad’s birthday and I went with my family around Caño Island in search of whales.

Each year, between the months of August and October our country is visited by humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) that live in the cold waters of the Southern Hemisphere. They come to mate and give birth to their young in our warm tropical waters.

The anxiety of waiting

We left from Sierpe village, crossing estuaries that took us to the sea while admiring the impressive mangrove forests surrounding the delta of the Sierpe and Térraba rivers, the largest mangrove forest in Central America.

Once at sea, everybody onboard would think they had spotted a whale every time they saw a log floating or even a shadow of the waves. There was great anxiety, we all wanted to know when we would get to see the first whale.

Impresionante Sierpe, Bahía de Drake, Isla del Caño. Foto por Marco Quesada.

The imposing Sierpe, Drake’s Bay, Caño Island. Photo by Marco Quesada.

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Working with Marine Mammals (part II)

Written by Laura May-Collado, Associated Researcher at Vermont University and CIMAR
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This post is a sequel of this one

My initial work with scientists John Calambokidis, Kristin Rasmussen and Tim Gerrodette provided an important baseline that has since contributed to the protection of these animals and their habitat in Costa Rica, but there is still at lot to be done research and conservation wise. About 47% of these cetacean species are classified by the IUCN Red List (2015.2) as data deficient; meaning their risk of extinction cannot be determine due to lack of information. This of course generates uncertainty about whether these species are safe or actually in danger, a difficult challenge to address, as many funding agencies do not provide grants to fulfill these kinds of gaps in knowledge. This is a concern because the ongoing biodiversity crisis is significantly affecting all cetacean populations independently of their IUCN status.

Cetaceans have a very low population growth rate making them susceptible to any kind of exploitation that affects their behavior and immediate population size including pollution (chemical, acoustic), intense harvesting, climate change, and high incidental mortality in fishing nets.

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