The Costa Rican “Thermal Dome”

    One of the Richest Oceanic Places on the Planet

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    The presence of the oceanic phenomenon the “Thermal Dome” of Costa Rica was detected off the coasts of the Central American country in 1948, through bathythermographs (instrument consisting of a thermometer that allows to measure and graphically represent the temperature of the seawater at different depths ), located on ships that traveled from California to Panama.

    It is an oceanographic phenomenon.
    Geographical zone of the Costa Rican Thermal Dome

    Due to the dome shape generated by a thermocline (the imaginary line that separates 2 water masses of different temperature) when approaching the surface and the location towards Costa Rica, Cromwell (1958) baptized the oceanographic place as the “Thermal Dome” of Costa Rica.

    The Thermal Dome is considered one of the richest places on the planet, due to the huge marine current that generates the displacement of deep, cold, and rich water in nutrients.

    It should be noted that in some months of the year it can be found next to the Costa Rican Pacific coast, specifically in the area of Papagayo, northwest of Costa Rica and in the middle of the year, it tends to separate, entering the sea. The nutrients produced in the Dome are suitable for feeding marine mammals such as dolphins and blue whales, which migrate from the coasts of California.

    The enormous amount of cold water, combined with sunlight, strengthens the growth of algae which helps the feeding of zoo-plankton consisting of larvae and larger animals such as sea sponges, worms, echinoderms, mollusks, crustaceans, and other aquatic arthropods. No doubt that the Thermal Dome is an interesting place, which is also located within one of the largest tuna catch areas in the world.

    Countless expeditions have been made in the Dome. Hundreds of experts from organizations around the world have reported species of dolphins such as bottle noses, rough teeth, spotting, and killer whales. In the case of sea turtles, foundations such as “Keto” observe the species of olive and leatherback turtles through a guided tour.

    This is the largest and heaviest turtle species of the world.
    Leatherback turtle in the sea

    The Ecological and Economic Importance of the Dome for the Central American Countries

    According to Kessler, a German botanist, the relevance of the oceanic phenomenon has gone unnoticed for decades. However, important economic activities, such as fishing companies and tourism, are linked to this important oceanographic phenomenon.

    “The environmental and socioeconomic relevance of the Dome is barely being understood and its role in the maintenance of fisheries (organized efforts to capture fish or other aquatic species), marine biodiversity, and climate is just beginning to be seen,” he commented.

    On the other hand, there are several threats that can affect the habitats and ecosystems of the Thermal Dome. We can point out the increasing entropic pressures that affect the ecological balance, and the climatic conditions in the High Seas and in the associated coastal zones in Central America.

    Among other threats, there are clashes between ships and marine organisms such as turtles and cetaceans, which generate blows, wounds, amputations, lethal collisions, and the risk of marine pollution by toxic debris. The protection of the natural wealth of the Dome is a challenge nowadays because it is a shared resource in the Central American region and the international community. It is the preferential habitat for vulnerable or endangered species.

    Dolphins are human-friendly animals.

    Taking into account that the countries dependent on the natural phenomenon have little technical, human, and financial capacity, is the reason why they must maintain cooperation to implement effective measures in their care.

    Definitely, Costa Rica is a kind of box of wonderful curiosities. Every day this country surprises all those who are lovers of tourism, gastronomy, culture, including the natural phenomena that can be observed here and in different parts of the world.

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