In three days, Mission Blue is heading out to the Costa Rica Thermal Dome Hope Spot with our strategic partners at MarViva! They are a fantastic regional, non-governmental organization focusing on the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal resources, including the expansion of marine protected areas. In the Costa Rica Thermal Dome, MarViva and Mission Blue share the goal of raising awareness among decision makers and natural resource users about the ecological importance of the Dome, as well as the ecological connection between coastal environments in the Central American region and the high seas.
Here are the facts…
What is the Costa Rica Thermal Dome?
The Costa Rica Thermal Dome is an open-ocean phenomenon that forms every spring between 150 and 300 miles off the western coast of Costa Rica. Approximately 70% occurs on the high seas, and the remaining 30% straddles the Exclusive Economic Zones of Central American countries. One of the world’s highest concentrations of phytoplankton and primary productivity rates occurs in the Dome, making the area a preferred habitat for endangered, emblematic species like the blue whale and leatherback turtle. In addition to acting as a significant carbon sink, the Dome serves a breeding ground, feeding place and migratory corridor for sharks, multiple cetaceans, sea turtles, large pelagic fish, marine predators, and seabirds.
Why are we going to the Dome?
The lack of global high seas governance challenges the Dome’s longterm sustainability and augments the vulnerability of its critical natural heritage. Increasing anthropogenic pressures in areas beyond national jurisdiction threaten the region’s marine life and its associated environmental services. Unregulated fishing means overexploitation of species of commercial interest, as well as by-catch of sharks, rays, turtles, cetaceans, birds, and others. Unplanned maritime traffic increases noise pollution, disrupts key habitats and risks collision with cetaceans and sea turtles.
How are we going to make a difference?
Recognition of the Costa Rica Thermal Dome’s environmental and socioeconomic value is fundamental to safeguard its natural heritage and to guide sustainable development of the nearby Central American countries. In order to garner support from regional governments to create a model governance scheme for the Dome, Mission Blue will document MarViva’s scientific efforts in the Dome, as well as generate world-class photo and documentary video to raise awareness and engage diverse audiences in the challenges facing the high seas and the Dome. We are excited to share all of this with you.
How challenging is this expedition?
Very! Because there is no land on which to anchor or take shelter at the Dome, many expeditions have been driven away by high winds and rough seas. We’ve got our flippers crossed that we’ll be able to achieve our goals and not be driven out by challenging conditions as so many have. So far, the weather looks OK!
Stay tuned for more developments coming from this Expedition. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for LIVE transmissions, our website for updates and this newsletter for more information. Click HERE for more information on the Dome.