Eye of the Ocean

The Eye of the Ocean monitoring program aims to protect Santa Elena Bay in connectionwith the occurrence and monitoring of whales, especially humpback whales.

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What is the eye of
the ocean?

The Eye of the Ocean program, part of the Blue Life project in Costa Rica, focuses on monitoring and protecting marine life, especially humpback whales, in Santa Elena Bay from July to March.

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Monitoring

Monitoring is conducted at sea using our project ship, The Spartan, and on land through observations from elevated sites in Santa Elena Bay. The goal is to document marine mammals, particularly whales and dolphins, using cameras and drones. The Spartan's marine team directs land monitoring efforts, essential for accurate marine observations.

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The Spartan ship

The Spartan, our project boat, monitors humpback whales in the IMMA zone between Santa Elena and Papagayo Bay. It's 11 meters long, operates up to 4 days, and has advanced navigation, marine binoculars, a hydrophone, and diving gear. It accommodates eight crew members.

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The importance of Santa Elena bay

Santa Elena Bay is a critical breeding zone for humpback whales, threatened by a proposed cargo port. Our monitoring with The Spartan gathers essential data to protect this area, shared with authorities and supported by the Voice for Whales petition.

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Why protect the ocean in Costa Rica?

Despite strong land protections, Costa Rica's ocean conservation struggles. High fish demand and exports (70%) stress marine life. Illegal fishing threatens dolphins, whales, and sharks, especially in the Thermal Dome. Enhanced protection is urgently needed.

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What is the eye of the ocean?

The Eye of the Ocean monitoring program is part of the Blue Life project in Costa Rica and deals with the monitoring and protection of the underwater world with a focus on marine mammals, whales and dolphins. The flagship animals of the Eye of the Ocean are humpback whales, which come to Santa Elena Bay from July to March to breed.

Monitoring

Monitoring is carried out at sea thanks to our project ship The Spartan and on land in the form of direct observations from elevated sites in Santa Elena Bay. The goal of monitoring from the ship is photographic and video documentation of individual species of marine mammals, their tail and dorsal fins, exhalations, the number and behaviour of whales, including numbers and species of dolphins. Documentation takes place with the help of cameras, cameras and drones. Monitoring on land is key to marine monitoring itself and is navigated by the marine team on board The Spartan.

The Spartan ship

Our project motor boat The Spartan meets the highest criteria for quality one-day and several-days monitoring in the IMMA (Important Marine Mammals Area) reproduction zone of humpback whales between Santa Elena Bay and Papagayo Bay.

We can operate up to 4 days at a time without the need for contact with the mainland.

The boat is 11 meters long,4 meters wide, has a high and very clear captain‘s bridge for 6 people.
It is powered by two built-in engines, has a generator, a quality navigation map system with sonar and an autopilot. On the ship there are marine binoculars, a hydrophone, underwater drone Chasing 2 Pro Max for monitoring the voices of whales under the sea surface and two complete diving equipments.

A crew of up to eight can sleep on it.

The importance of the bay
and its threats

Santa Elena Bay is a unique breeding zone for humpback whales, which come here for courtship, reproduction and birth from July to November (southern population from Antarctica) and from December to March (northern population from California).

This key site is also part of the officially designatedIMMA San Juan del Sur – Papagayo Bay reproductive zone. However, this world-important whale bay is threatened by the economic intention of trying to build a gigantic cargo port, which is part of the „Dry Channel“ project, which is a brutal threat to the entire bay and its biodiversity in theIMMA humpback whale reproduction zone.

This threat can be averted with strong and up-to-date whale data in Santa Elena Bay. This is exactly what we do, direct field monitoring with The Spartan to protect marine mammals throughout this area.

Our data goes to the competent state nature protection authorities SINAC, ACG Guanacaste, Incopesca to the Costa Rican Congress. Our campaign also includes the international Voice for Whales petition.

Why protect the ocean in Costa Rica?

Despite the fact that Costa Rica is a model country for the protection of terrestrial eco systems, especially rainforests, the protection of the ocean and the underwater world is very backward.

Just as there is a nationwide ban on hunting wild animals on land, it is different in the ocean. The massive demand for marine fish in restaurants, sport fishing, the huge export of fish outside Costa Rica (up to70%) and the technical maritime inability of the state to protect its marine economic zone make CostaRica a country under enormous pressure from both legal and illegal fishing. Costa Rica ranks among the five worst countries for shark finning.

Thermal Dome, as an oceanic phenomenon, is the target of foreign fishing boats, especially Chinese ones, which come here to catch yellowfin tuna on their age-old migration, or shark fins.

The outgoing ocean current carries such a large amount of nutrients, i.e. plankton, that is why thousands of dolphins, the largest population of humpback whales on Earth, sharks, rays, sea turtles and huge shoals of sea fish live here. These rare animals end up as bycatch in the nets of large fishing boats that often enter Costa Rican waters illegally, but there is no force yet to provide relevant evidence of these fishing activities. Let‘s help!

WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT THE OCEAN?

Become a direct part of protecting whales and their important bay for their reproduction. Each of us now has the opportunity to get involved in the monitoring and protection of marine mammals. How to do it:

1

reduce or stop eating seafood

2

volunteer aboard The Spartan and get involved

3

enter a standing monthly order to THE Eye of the Ocean account

1

reduce or
stop eating
seafood

2

volunteer aboard The Spartan and get involved

3

enter a standing monthly order to THE Eye of the Ocean account

4

become sponsor of whale monitoring and protection

5

support the education of children, youth and adults

6

sign the Voice for Whales petition

GET INVOLVED, BECOME THE EYE OF THE OCEAN

Support the operating costs of the project ship The Spartan so that it can operate in the field with itsEye of the Ocean crew.

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