From large humpback whales to small birds and amphibians, southern Costa Rica is home to a rich biodiversity that its inhabitants try to protect and show to the thousands of tourists who visit the area each year.
The canton of Osa, province of Puntarenas, is home to the humpback whale watching sanctuary in the Marino Ballena National Park, where the authorities allow tours under strict rules to guarantee the conservation of the ecosystem and the integrity of the cetaceans that use Costa Rican waters for their breeding rituals and the survival of their calves.
“They use Costa Rican waters because they are shallow, have the ideal temperature and a line of rocks that serves as protection against predators. Here they mate and give birth. They come from the polar parts, others are already pregnant and come to give birth,” guide Dylan Monge said.
In the southern Pacific of Costa Rica these large cetaceans remain from July to October and with luck tourists can watch them jump or show their tail, or simply come out to breathe from time to time with their young.Humpback whales measure between 14 and 16 meters and weigh more than 40 tons and their average life spans between 60 and 80 years of age.
An essential part of the economy
Whale watching is an essential part of the economy of southern Costa Rica, especially in Bahía Ballena, where tour operators meet a series of requirements to protect cetaceans and avoid impacts on their habitat.
A bird sanctuary
In the south of Costa Rica is the Sierpe wetland, one of the largest in Central America, which is another of the area’s attractions due to the scenic beauty of its canals and lagoon, and for the biodiversity that can be appreciated, especially crocodiles and waterfowl.
The town of San Vito, canton of Coto Brus, is also located in the southern area, a high area at more than 1,200 meters above sea level where dozens of species of birds live in forests and mountains.San Vito is one of the 12 points that make up the “Bird Route”, a guide that shows tourists and scientists the ideal places to observe and study these animals.
In this place you can see everything from toucans, hawks and hawks, to smaller birds such as several species of hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world, and of which 53 species live in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is considered one of the most important tourist destinations in the world for bird watching, since in its 51,100 square kilometers of land surface there are more than 900 species of birds, which is equivalent to 9% of the total known in the world.
According to data from the Costa Rican Tourism Institute, by 2019, 924 species of Costa Rican birds had been identified, of which 7 are endemic and 220 are migratory species.The National Bird Watching Route is made up of 12 nodes or main bird watching sites, which involve national parks, private reserves and surrounding communities.This route covers 4 large areas: the dry tropical forest, highlands, the humid tropical forest of the Caribbean and the humid tropical forest of the South Pacific.
The local governments of the south, entrepreneurs, tourism businessmen, the Chamber of Tourism of Osa, the Chamber of Tourism and Commerce of Coto Brus and the Chamber of Tourism of Sabalito (CATUSAB) came together to promote the attractions of the area through a campaign that called “Between Quetzales and Whales”, alluding to two of the emblematic species.
“The South has it all. We want to show the world that they can enjoy whales, the sun, quetzals, the clouds, as well as the essence of their people and traditions,” said the president of the Osa Chamber of Tourism, Luis Centeno.