Blue Eco Blog

Splash! You are in Costa Rica's Blue Eco Blog. Echoing Eco for Oceans and Waters. Giving voice to dolphins and whales, their waves and their waters, and all denizens of the deep. News they think you should use. Dive in.

Are tourists keeping Costa Rican dolphins awake?

clock August 30, 2012 09:28 by author BlueEcoBlog

Are tourists keeping Costa Rican dolphins awake?

Dolphins need protected areas and times.

Recent research on Hawaiian spinner dolphins indicates that they need protected times and places. Surprise! One bay is visited by as many as sixty swimmers at a time who try to play with a small group of dolphins. Seems the dolphins rest in the early daylight hours, and that’s when many swimmer tourists head out. Less dolphins may come into the bay and the dolphins might leave earlier than usual when too many people show up. Spinners in Hawaii rest in small groups near shore in shallow sandy bays near deep water. Scientists say these places need protection. Clearly tourists should be told to leave the dolphins alone in the early daylight hours and fishing and extraction should be stopped in the bays. Costa Rican dolphins should have it so good.

Costa Rican spinner dolphins deal with giant nets towed by ships, helicopters dropping bombs, long lines full of hooks, shrimp trawlers bulldozing the bottom, surprise drill ships making a big mess, big banging seismic surveys, cargo ships blitzing by, sport fishers plowing through the pod with lines and hooks, tourist boats gawking, and even some divers in the water. How do you think that effects their beauty sleep?

Don't forget here in Costa Rica spinner dolphins have no protected place at all.

Costa Rican spinner and spotted dolphins, who also rest in the early daylight, need tourists to leave them alone at this time. Sport fishing boats need to stop fishing in the dolphins as they particularly like the early hours of the day. Many hotel managers want tours to leave early to get everyone out of the hotel, but this is the wrong strategy if you are concerned about dolphins. Tourist operators like divers and fishers should put up on their web pages that they leave the dolphins alone in the am. Guests of Costa Cetacea over the years will recall that all tours leave late and respect the dolphins rest time, much to the frustration of some hotel managers. The interactions here in Costa Rica are much more interesting in the PM anyway.

Aloha to the Hawaiians for once again being the world ocean leaders. Lets hope Costa Rica follows.

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New Billfish Hero Shot-The Costa Rican Standard for the Future

clock August 7, 2012 09:35 by author BlueEcoBlog

A Different Kind of Trophy Shot

From The Tico Times: Thursday, August 12, 2010 - By Shawn Larkin

It s happened so many times before, but not quite like this.

You pull the thick, taut line until the giant beast is in your arms. Careful: The thing is bigger than you and could explode with movement. You haul up the great animal in a sort of hug as you look up at the camera with your trophy from the sea bravely displayed. Click. Trophy shot.

The human-with-big-fish trophy shot has been played out more times in Costa Rica than anyone can count. But these photos are dying out because sportfishers want to use their resource sustainably, and the old trophy shots hurt the fish when they were hauled out of the water. People were beginning to think the trophy shot was a thing of the past.

Check out the new trophy shot of Costa Rican adventure ecotourism. Everything is the same as the old style, except that instead of on deck, you do it underwater, along the longlines set by commercial fishermen.

There is no catch, just release. You then resuscitate the fish by moving it through the water, great for more shots or even video.

You have to resuscitate the great fish because, for who knows how long, it has swum around in tiny circles at the end of a short line, with a steel hook through its mouth. The animal is so exhausted that it may die. That s why you don t worry so much about the danger of grabbing hold of some of the fastest animals in the sea; you can tell when they don t have much kick left in them.

When you feel the fish start to get a little life back, you let go and move away. The fish angles down to the depths and shakes a bit.

Then it starts to swim away into the blue. Another marlin pulls in alongside the first. It had been circling its hooked partner.

By letting the fish off the hook, you may be helping to generate millions of future dollars for the national economy through future sportfishing and ecotourism.

You move a short swim down the long line and find another short line with a sailfish on the end of a hook, its mate circling. So you do it all again. Underwater, the line runs out of sight with more hooks and giant fish.

When you lift your head up from the water and take your mask off, you see that the longline stretches out of sight, with little white buoys holding up the line every 500 meters into the distance. Many of the fish are dead on the hook, but there are still plenty more live ones to release. They will surely die without you.

You keep at it because you want to see big sharks. Diving along long lines remains one of the best ways left to see big sharks in Costa Rica. But you don t see any big sharks, because hardly any are left. You wonder if, soon, any marlin and sailfish will remain.

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Catch and Release Sportfishing is headed the way of African Big Game Tourist Hunting—More money and sustainability in oceanic adventure ecotourism

clock June 3, 2012 10:15 by author BlueEcoBlog
Are Catch and Release Sport Fishers hiding who really catches their fish? 

Long ago shooting big animals to say you did it, stuff it for your wall, or get a trophy photo of yourself looming over the motionless beast, seemed like a cool thing to do for many tourists. When the animals started disappearing, big game hunting began to appear to be more of a ego trip. Trophy catch and release sportfishing for fish might be headed on the same course, for the same reasons.

While sportfishing to eat fish will be around as long as there are fish, trophy fishing for endangered large animals to release might not last too much longer. As happened before with the fashion of big game hunting in Africa for Europeans, as more people find out what trophy fishing really entails, the mystique is being shattered. A heap of porters and a bunch of beasts of burden doing most of the work, once their roll was understood, took much of the glory out of big game hunting because the glory was theirs. And wealthy tourists didn’t really need or want to eat lions, tigers and rhinos.

The catch and release crowd of sport fishing is pretty darn similar. The glory belongs to the mates and captain who, almost always do the vast majority of the work. A thousand or so horsepower seems to help a lot as well. Watching, it can be difficult to figure out what some of the “sportfishers” do other than sit, sip, and reel the reel sometimes, often letting the mates do much of the reeling. The mates will then grab the fish, take the hook out, and put the “sport fisher” in position with the fish for a photo. Then a mate will often be the one to take the photo of somebody holding the fish he just caught.

So the sportfisher comes back and tells everyone he caught a great beast, but since the great beasts are disappearing, he was grand enough to let it go. Wow. Dude.

I do know people who really do battle these fish themselves, from fueling up the boats, to baiting the hooks, to hours sweating as they finesse a powerful giant to the boat without breaking the line, to gaffing it, hauling it in, killing it and then taking it home to their family or community. They kill the fish because this type of fisher usually does not go after endangered species that need to be released. They fish for food, and with their expert skill they target other species.

That is what the sport fishing industry should do. Forget about billfish, they are in danger. Catching billfish stresses the creature big time and only contributes to their problems. Or did you think this macho battle was easy on the fish?

Do you really need to catch billfish to release them? For what? To study them to find out why they are disappearing? There are a lot of other fish in the sea. You will be just as tough and cool catching those. Even better if you bring home some catch to feed the hungry.

The future of terrestrial big game conservation and economic generation was ecotourism, not tourists hunting lions and elephants and gazelle. The future of ocean big game moneymaking and protection will be adventure ecotourism, not catching and releasing endangered sailfish, marlin and sharks.

Shawn Larkin All rights reserved. Copyright 2012. Alright.

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