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Offshore Osa Drilling Again in 2012

clock November 9, 2012 13:36 by author BlueEcoBlog

Marine life behavior alters after drilling

From The Tico Times Posted: Friday, June 17, 2011 - By Shawn Larkin
THE BIG BLUE: Dolphins have scattered and no whales have been seen in the area since a foreign research vessel drilled into the ocean floor earlier this year.
Rash of Rashes: A dolphin off southwestern Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula displays a skin rash.

The blue-water pelagic ecosystem offshore of southwestern Costa Rica’s Isla del Caño Biological Reserve and Corcovado National Park took serious one-two punches during the past few months, and it remains to be seen whether things will ever return to conditions of the past. The area around, not inside, the two protected areas is probably Costa Rica’s most critical dolphin and whale breeding and feeding waters. But the whales are gone, and the dolphins have changed. The fishing has been off, and boats are headed elsewhere to find fish.

The first few months of the year shaped up to be one of the best seasons for marine life in Costa Rican waters in recent memory. The cool currents of La Niña stoked a profusion of big pelagic species like dolphins, whales, tuna, turtles and giant mantas. Divers and snorkelers from the Southern Zone reported more giant mantas seen at Caño Island in February and March than in the past 15 years put together. Flights and boats searching for marine life in the area were finding dolphin superpods, groups of dolphins numbering in the hundreds to thousands, all over the area. There were many mating and birthing humpback whales, a large pod of false killer whales, orcas, fin whales and even three blue whales, including a baby, feeding on giant bait balls of small fish brought up from the depths during the normal strong upwelling at this time of year. There were uncountable hectares of turtles, tuna and billfish. There were even a few big sharks.

Then, a giant foreign ship showed up and began drilling deep holes in the ocean floor not far from Caño Island, in the name of scientific research. Within a day, the whales were gone. Search time for dolphins from a plane went from a half hour or less to two hours or more. Most dolphin superpods broke into smaller groups and headed north toward offshore Quepos. Others broke into smaller groups and moved inshore, closer to the coast. Dolphins that stayed in the area developed a strange skin rash.

The spewing ship kept at it for a month. Great areas of waters turned from marine blue to metallic brown and green. The day after the ship left, a new one showed up towing many kilometers of giant air guns blasting extremely loud sounds repetitively. A week later they were still at it. Drake Bay ecotourism and sportfishing boats foolish enough to still be looking in their favorite hot spots were told to leave the area by burly men on a yacht out of Quepos. Scuba divers at Caño Island could hear the giant booms of the guns during their dives.

No environmental impact study was done for the area. No dolphin and whale observers were onboard to look out for cetacean safety. There were no Costa Ricans onboard until someone noticed. Many questions were never answered. No notice was given to area residents of what was going to happen.

Since the drilling, no whales have been reported in the area – the longest period without whale sightings that anglers and guides in Drake Bay can remember. No large dolphin superpods have been seen. The fishing is bad. No wonder so few tourists seem to want to visit the area right now.

This serious lack of ocean oversight has left locals wondering what is next. There are reports of making a permanent drilling riser here and of laying an undersea cable from the mainland to Caño Island and then offshore to the rig.

Let’s hope an environmental impact study is involved and that locals dependent on the area’s marine life are given some notice so they can find new jobs. Because what’s next could be the knockout punch for a good chunk of Costa Rica’s famous marine life: whales, dolphins, turtles – and fishers and divers.

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Joides Resolution starts drilling work off Osa, and Caño Island Biological Reserve

clock March 18, 2011 08:54 by author BlueEcoBlog

Check out the Joides Resolution as it works of the Osa Peninsula.  

International team of scientists take a look at whats under the center of the dolphin superpod area.

Have a look below who has shown up in Osa´s Blue Water Pelagic.

Here's a note that was sent to the JR team and blog.

Imagine my surprise when I arrived at the office the other morning and there was the Joides Resolution right in the middle.

Of my office!

Probably needless to say, but I was quite impressed.

Wow, what a boat. That has got to be the best crows nest ever!

Then I saw your amazing web page, cool blog and outstanding videos and I was even more impressed.

The Ocean Man song rocks! Who is that band?

But your mission is the most impressive of all. Awesome and obviously more important then ever after the Japan quake and Tsunami.

I have studied the pelagic area where you are right now off Caño Island Biological Reserve, for more than 17 years. I guide people to see dolphins superpods and other pelagic life that congregates more often right where you are than anywhere else I know of. My clients are superyachts, film crews, movies, scientists and ecotourists.

I have wondered for a long time what make the epipelagic here so productive? What does it look like down there? Whats down there? Are you folks getting video?

Why might this be Costa Rica's number one dolphin superpod area?

Does any of your incredible team have any insight to these question?

Now for the bad news.

For the first time ever, we spotted no cetaceans in the area where you have been drilling. I can not help but assume JR might be suspect. Most of the time we find 1000s of dolphins for instance. My clients who have come a long way and spent and lot of their money were of course disappointed. This is our busiest season, where we get a chance, with luck, to save up for the many rainy days of rainy season. There are quite a few people that will be effected if the dolphins and whales stay away for the duration of you time drilling off the Osa peninsula. I myself will lose a large chunk of business.

I am especially bummed for the BBC film crew paying me to show them superpods right there for the first two weeks of April. Right where you are we filmed the spinner dolphin superpod shots for the Disneynature movie Oceans at this exact time of year, over two years.

Would it not be a good idea to consult the local community when you are drilling “very very close” to land? Especially a national protected area. First published was that you would be 100 miles from land. We would have than had the chance to schedule around it.

Did anyone do an environmental impact study? This is required under law here, as I understand it.

Do you have any Cetacean monitors on board? Do you ramp up an alarm sound to give any animals time to swim away before you blow lose any stuck drills? Do you have to empty the dirty bilge water right there “very, very close to land?”

Could you wait until May?

I also write for newspaper and blog and I look forward to publishing your answers and info about your mission.

I really wish to cause no problems as your mission is so interesting, important and valuable.

Thanks so much for all your great web site, blog and video info.

I wish you nothing but success.

Blue Eco Blog will keep you posted on the answers. 

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