Observing the jump and acrobatics of humpback whales is one of the shows that attracts thousands of tourists to the country. For this reason and with the aim of highlighting the tourist, economic, cultural and environmental importance of this activity for dozens of communities in the Costa Rican Pacific, an initiative seeks to make whale watching a public interest.
Best places in the world for sighting
Bahía Ballena, Isla del Caño Biological Reserve and Drake Bay are among the best places in the world for sighting this species, but also places such as Quepos, Golfo Dulce, Bahía de Santa Elena, Playa Sámara, Golfo de Papagayo and the Golfo de Nicoya.
“It is very important, not only in tourist terms because there are communities from all over the Pacific that benefit from the enormous tourism that comes to see these whales, which are beautiful and incredible; but it also allows the State to carry out scientific research on the way in which humpback whales remain on our coasts”, said Ariel Barrantes, deputy of the Broad Front and promoter of the proposal.
In addition, the facilitation of resources is sought to raise awareness about its protection and the development of sustainable and balanced practices for its approach to the coasts for many years.
Longest humpback whale watching season in the world
And it is that Costa Rica has the longest humpback whale watching season in the world, since, for ten months, divided into two periods, these migratory species become a transcendental tourist attraction. The first season is between July and November for Southern Hemisphere whales, while Northern Hemisphere species can be seen between December and April.
The proposal is also supported by the Golfo Dulce Chamber of Tourism, since it would bring other types of benefits to the country in environmental and sustainability matters, according to Alejandra Rojas-Barrantes, a tropical biologist.
“State support for scientific research, tourism and community management in relation to the observation of cetaceans will encourage the interest of the coastal communities that surround the Golfo Dulce, which would go hand in hand with an environmental culture that favors the conditions for the sustainable development of the coastal areas of the country”, said Rojas-Barrantes.
In this sense, the observation of cetaceans, in addition to being the pillar for the economic development of coastal communities, also allows encouraging the conservation of biodiversity.
On the other hand, any initiative that allows the promotion of tourist attractions is well received by people who depend on tourism in the area, agree the tourism chambers of Playa Samara and Quepos.
Putting the canton on the national tourist map
“During the last five years we have had a lot of whale transit in Quepos, especially in the months of August, September and October, which mobilizes many visitors, boosting the economy, generating employment and putting the canton on the national tourist map,” he said. Christian Fallas, president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism of Quepos.
A four-hour tour, departing from the Quepos Marina, is what the tour operators do in this area, which includes the presence of a guide, lunch and drinks; as well as the possibility of snorkeling, according to Fallas.
Because there is such a wide season for whale watching, visitors get to see the whales most of the time, however, they can also enjoy the presence of dolphins, something very common in this area.
Promoting a calm environment
It is important that companies and people promote a calm environment and do not cause stress to animals, as well as that tour operators provide security conditions for tourists who decide to enjoy the show.
Marino Ballena National Park
One of Costa Rica’s efforts to conserve cetaceans is the creation of a sanctuary to enjoy their presence, the world-renowned Marino Ballena National Park, which according to National Geographic is one of the ten best places on the planet for whale watching.
This place is the first Protected Area created exclusively for its marine resources, since species such as dolphins, manta rays, hammerhead sharks and parrotfish can also be observed.