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Golfo Dulce

Golfito lies to the south of Costa Rica, close to the border with Panama. It is a "sub-gulf " within another larger one known as Golfo Dulce. In Costa Rica, there is another gulf known as the Gulf of Nicoya, which traditionally has been regarded as a bottomless pit in terms of the abundance of fish.

But Nicoya is in the final throes of exhaustion, according to researchers in Costa Rica, who give it around three more years before its definitive collapse. The Nicoya situation is a deplorable example of fisheries management and Golfito may well be following the same course: a huge marina, fundamentally geared towards sports fishing, has already been approved. These tourist activities, together with the increase in industrial fishing activity caused by the collapse of the Nicoya Gulf fishery, may rapidly endanger Golfo Dulce and its resources.


Cocos Island (Costa Rica)

Lying 300 nautical miles to the south-west of Golfo Dulce, this constitutes the largest marine environmental treasure of the people of Costa Rica. It is a spot that gives rise to considerable controversy amongst fishermen and environmentalists. The fishermen (longliners, trawlers, seiners fish illegally in the protected waters, mainly seeking out tuna and shark fins (an illegal activity in Costa Rica) with the added impact of causing dolphin deaths.

The presence of domesticated wild pigs and deer (both species introduced by the crews of vessels which stopped occasionally to re-provision at the island) is also damaging the corralliferous wealth of the bays. When their excrement is swept down to the sea by the rains and reaches the coral, it kills it. Hammerhead sharks, reef sharks, dolphins and other marine fauna are all very common around Cocos Island.

 

Coiba Island (Panama)

Coiba Island lies 120 nautical miles to the south-east of Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica and just 12 nautical miles from the nearby coast of Panama. Intensive illegal fishing activities have made Coiba a highly threatened protected area. Coral reefs, humpback whales, pilot whales, killer whales, dolphins, sea turtles (who lay their eggs on its beaches), manta rays, marlin and other sea creatures all form part of its natural wealth.


Bahamas

In the Bahamas, it was possible to document the environmental impact of cruise ship traffic. It is also an excellent spot for documenting wildlife, both on the surface -- seabirds, marine mammals, etc. -- and under the water. The Atlantic spotted dolphin, humpback whales and coral reefs offered other avenues for study and documentation in this region.


Bermuda and the Sargasso Sea

This area is fundamental to the entire north Atlantic, although not many people know about it. It is an important spot for species such as sea turtles, where the young turtles recently born on the beaches of Georgia and Florida spend their "lost year". In addition, crustaceans, the common dolphin, triggerfish, nudibranchs and many other species can be found in the Sargasso Sea.

There is also a significant concentration of floating rubbish, the presence of vessels flying flags of convenience from Bermuda and European and American eels. Some scientific estimates put the quantity of crude oil floating in this sea at between 70,000 and 86,000 tons, held among the seaweed.


The Azores

The Azores is a key location for understanding the migration of sea turtles in the Atlantic. All loggerhead turtles found in these waters come from the laying beaches of North America and the Caribbean islands. The biggest longline  fishing fleets in this area are the Spanish and Portuguese, searching for swordfish  and tuna. Other major fleets, such as the Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian, Greek and Moroccan fleets, can also be found in both the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Compiling information on the impact, fishing effort and discards of these fleets can help in managing the waters surrounding a ban on the use of bottom trawling over its important seamounts.

Between the Azores and the Strait of Gibraltar there are seamounts of tremendous ecological value. The peaks of some of them rise up to just a few meters, others are rooted at depths of some 3,000 meters. These mountains represent marine oases for hundreds of species and are home to deep-sea coral reefs.


Strait of Gibraltar

This is one of the most unusual marine areas in the world due to the migratory routes of cetaceans, swordfish, tuna and other species, the heavy oil tanker traffic and the huge amount of concentrated rubbish. The Spanish, Portuguese and Moroccan fishing fleets all operate in this area.