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Research And Data

Coco Galapagos 2021

This expedition takes place between the Coco’s Island National Park (CINP, in Costa Rica) and the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR, in Ecuador). The whole round trip will traverse a total distance of 1584 nm from May 3th to May 23th, and will visit oceanic seamounts and islands belonging to both countries. The expedition will visit each site for two days, time in which satellite and acoustic tagging, BRUVs sampling, biodiversity counts, DNA sampling, and macro-plastic transects will be carried out. Four of the six sites are seamounts with less than 200 m depth.
COCO GALAPAGOS 2021

Expedition Route

COCO GALAPAGOS 2021

Background

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a key conservation strategy for all countries in their marine territories and also for areas beyond national jurisdiction. Scientific studies carried out by MigraMar, and other scientists, show that highly migratory species such as sharks, rays, sea turtles, tuna, swordfish, billfish, dorado and whales are safe in existing MPAs, but once they leave face significant threats, mainly by fishing vessels. How much are these species at risk while being out of a reserve, or how effective is a MPA to protect them while being within, are key questions MigraMar is committed to assess.

MigraMar and its collaborators are leading a unique research expedition to take place in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean, particularly in the region known as the Coco-Galapagos MigraVia. This expedition is carried out within the Marine Corridor of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean (CMAR) framework, which is supported by both the Governments of Costa Rica and Ecuador.

The goal of this expedition is to obtain solid scientific information to propose decision makers the necessary level of protection to reduce fishery-related mortality and improved management schemes for migratory species.

COCO GALAPAGOS 2021

Expetidion goals

To achieve this, MigraMar relies on the following expedition objectives:

  • To assess the spatial and temporal behavior of migratory marine species.
  • To assess the spatial and temporal trends in abundance, size structure and biomass productivity of migratory marine species.
  • To assess the behavior and population dynamic response of marine migratory species to changes in the oceanographic setting, particularly in relation to strong environmental events such as ENSO and long-term climate change scenarios.
  • To assess the genetic diversity, gene flow and effective population size between marine species (sub) populations living within the MPAs under assessment.
  • To investigate the abundance and composition of floating plastic pollution that may be encountered by marine species in this region.
COCO GALAPAGOS 2021

Ethics in our science

All the research carried out by MigraMar strictly follows the United States and Australian codes on human and animal experimentation. Our research methods have been carefully reviewed and approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee of the University of California – Davis; the Safety, Ethics and Institutional Biosafety Committees of the University of Tasmania; the Galapagos National Park Directorate animal welfare regulations; the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development through the Natural National Parks of Colombia; the Ministry of Environment of Panamá; and the Ministry of Environment of Costa Rica.

COCO GALAPAGOS 2021

The Team

Alex Hearn, Ph.D.

Universidad San Francisco de Quito

United Kingdom

Expedition leader

César Peñaherrera-Palma, Ph.D.

MigraMar

Ecuador

Expedition Scientist (BRUVs)

Randall Arauz, M.Sc.

CREMA

United States of America

Expedition Scientist (Tagging)

Andrea Vera, B.Sc.

Universidad San Francsico de Quito

Ecuador

Research assistant (eDNA)

Marta Cambra, B.Sc.

University of Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Research assistant (BRUVs)

Rosario Alvarez, M.Sc.

MigraMar

México

Research assistant (Biodiversity Counts)

Roy Prendas

Sea Legacy

Costa Rica

Communication lead

Micaela Stacey

Sea Legacy

Ecuador

Communication support

Carlos Chacón

PACIFICO

Costa Rica

CMAR / PACIFICO

Jennifer Suarez

Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos

Ecuador

Ecuador’s Government representative

Isaac Chinchilla

Vice-Ministerio Aguas y Mares

Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Government representative

Juan Bonilla

Ocean Blue Tree

United States of America

Expedition support

James Otis III

Fins Attached

United States of America

Expedition support

Jimmy Mora

Fisherman

Costa Rica

Research support

COCO GALAPAGOS 2021

The Research Vessel

COCO GALAPAGOS 2021

Our partners in science