Pelagic Research and Conservation Project


The Pelagic Research & Conservation Project for Isla del Coco was initiated by TBA21–Academy in collaboration with our Costa Rican partners including FAICO (La Fundación Amigos de la Isla del Coco) Mission Tiburon, and with support from Seamasters in May 2014. The project idea was born as a follow-up on the project Treasure of Lima: A Buried Exhibition as a symbol of support for the island and the problems that it faces trying to enforce a ban on shark fishing. The funds raised from auctioning the digitally encrypted map of the Treasure of Lima: A Buried Exhibition will be earmarked to this shark research and conservation project. The map was sold at the Contemporary Art Evening Sale of Phillips auction house in New York, on November 13, 2014.

The main aim of this project is to conserve the macro-pelagic life around Isla del Coco. Renowned internationally for its marine biodiversity, Isla del Coco and its islets were declared a National Park of Costa Rica 1978. Large congregations of pelagic organisms, especially fish and at least twelve species of sharks, make the waters around Coco one of the richest regions for underwater life in the whole Pacific. The protected area is a critical habitat. Attempting to combat the threat of illegal fishing was a primary for reason for Coco’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. 
Preliminary Results published by FAICO
At the time of this project's initiation, there was no scientific research into local movements and migrations, habitat use and behaviour of pelagic species around Isla del Coco. Responding to this need, our project aims to collect baseline information over three years. The resulting data is to be incorporated into recommended management strategies for the marine park and its buffer zone, as well as providing an educational service to local communities.

The project has taken an integrated approach examining the biological, ecological and behavioural trends of large pelagic species with a focus on sharks in the first instance. The data gathered under this project will be used to advise policy changes and develop a long-term marine conservation management plan for Marine Conservation Area around the Isla del Coco, including the designation and/or expansion of marine protected areas. There will also be a key educational element to this project focusing on selected coastal areas of mainland Costa Rica. 

In July 2019, Parque Nacional Isla del Coco, Amigos Isla del Coco, and Misión Tiburón Costa Rica presented preliminary results of the project Research and Conservation of Migratory Sharks of Isla del Coco National Park, ten months after the first tagging expedition to this oceanic island. 

As of today, 25 satellite tags have been placed during four expeditions in Costa Rica: two in Golfo Dulce and two in Isla del Coco National Park.