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The Gulf of Nicoya Print E-mail
Written by Thomas Jones   

The Gulf is a relatively shallow area of water with water depths of 50 meters or less for almost the entire inner Gulf. As one approaches Cabo Blanco the shelf starts to drop off rapidly to several hundred meters or more. As the inner part of the Gulf is mainly mangrove forests, it acts as the main nursery for a variety of marine species. This is one of the main reasons the Gulf can support the amount of fish and invertebrates it does.


Diversity
In terms of biodiversity the Gulf is incredible, supporting many hundreds
of different species of sea animals. Zooplankton support large schools of sardines and anchovies, which in turn are preyed upon by larger fish. It is
a full scale food chain all the way up to the top predators such as sharks.
It is not uncommon to spot dolphins playing in the waves in front of the boat, turtles hanging out or mating on the surface, manta rays putting
on a show with series of high acrobatic jumps and schools of hungry tunas or jacks churning the water to foam as they feed on baitfish. Between August and December humpback whales grace the Gulf with their presence.

Sport Fishing
Sport Fishing in general is very popular in Costa Rica and the Gulf of Nicoya is an excellent arena to enjoy this sport. Snappers, groupers, dorado, roosterfish, jacks, trevallys, sharks, rays, tuna and sailfish are all regulars in the Gulf. It is not too far out to the blue deep water where marlin, big dorado, more sailfish and yellowfin tuna do their thing. In general the rainy season is better for the inshore fishing and the offshore fishing is hotter in the dry season. It is possible to fish in a variety of ways and taking into account the diversity of fish, there is always a surprise on hand when you get a bite. A snapper or roosterfish might turn out to be a sailfish or wahoo instead!

Help the Gulf
Even though there are still very good fishing possibilities and a lot of life
in the Gulf, the Gulf is in need of help to maintain this level of biodiversity and the numbers of fish for future generations to come. Agricultural runoff, along with other types of pollutants can cause algae blossoms with undesirable results. Garbage, in particular plastics, litter the beaches
and kill many turtles as they eat it and suffocate. Unregulated fishing
and increased fishing pressure has put a strain on certain fish populations as well.
We all can do our part to make sure we don't litter and perhaps even pick up some plastic if we see it. If you fish, please only keep what you need for food and carefully release the rest. If we start thinking about this now and pass on good values to others we meet, the Gulf can keep giving for a long time to come! 

by Thomas Jones, Marine Biologist, Master in Shark Biology
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