National Parks re-open in time for annual whale migration

Published on April 2, 2024

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(8 Aug 2020) LEAD IN:
Authorities in Costa Rica have re-opened the country’s national parks, following lockdown measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It couldn’t come at a better time – migrating humpback whales have arrived off the Pacific coast, they’ll stay through the summer months to raise their calves before swimming south towards Antarctica.

Off the coast of Costa Rica, a welcome sight – a humpback whale and its calf.
After months of closure, authorities have reopened the South American country’s national parks.
That means tourist boats are again sailing from Marino Ballena National Park to catch a glimpse of one of the world’s largest mammals.
Tourism authorities claim Costa Rica is one of the best places to spot these migrating giants, they’re present for about nine months of the year.
From December to spring, whales from the North Pacific swim south in search of warmer temperatures. From August to autumn, their southern cousins swim north from Antarctica, fleeing the southern hemisphere’s cold winter.
Both groups congregate off the coast of Costa Rica, rearing their young. It’s thought to be one of the longest mammal migrations in the world.
Experts believe the humpbacks migrate to the tropics because the warmer waters help their calves grow quicker, there are also less predators.
Once endangered due to commercial hunting, now humpback whale populations are increasing globally.
“One of the reasons why whales come to Costa Rica is the optimal temperature conditions along the Pacific coast that favor the growth of the species,” explains tour guide Guillermo Gómez.
“The mothers come and find the conditions for the gestation of the whale calf, during some months the mothers stay in this zone feeding and raising their calves and then they return to the feeding zones of the mothers in Antarctica.”
“It was very nice, we spent about three hours watching whales, we saw four whales with their calves, the excellent guide was explaining the whole process and the truth is that my expectations were fulfilled and we saw all the whales we were hoping to see”  says tourist Juan Solera.
The majority of workers in Costa Rica’s south western Uvita area work in the country’s tourism industry.
For them, it’s a relief after months of closure, due to the pandemic.
“We hope that they will allow more open tourism and that they will not interrupt the whale festival this year as it is the biggest source of income for the whole community all year round,” says sustainable tourism campaigner, John Tresemer.
“Costa Ricans and foreigners want to see a whale and here it is almost guaranteed between August and September.”
For tourists, it’s a welcome sight, after the country’s virus lockdown.
“This pandemic has made us appreciate the country in which we live and know places that we had not known within our country and actually in that aspect has been very positive,” says tourist Felipe Solera.
For the humpback whales, they’ll stay here till around October, before beginning the long journey south.

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Is Hemisfair Park Open

Is Hemisfair Park Open, National Parks re-open in time for annual whale migration.

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