Some people are fortunate enough to get the chance to see cetaceans in Costa Rica. The question is, what can we do to make cetacean spotting’s more frequent? Let us begin with some basic facts.


So what is a Cetacean?


  • A major group of marine mammals: dolphins, porpoises, and whales


What are some common Cetaceans seen in Costa Rica?


The Pantropical Spotted Dolphin (Stenella attenuata)

spotted dolphin



  • Feed on mackerel, small fish, and shrimp
  • Sexual maturity occurs at about five years
  • Location: Temperate and tropical waters
  • Threatened by fishing practices (mainly fishing nets)


The Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

bottlenose dolphin


  • Use echolocation to feed on bottom-dwelling fish, shrimp, and squid
    • Echolocation: the location of objects by reflected sound
  • Sexual maturity of females 5-7 years, males 10-12 years
  • Location: Temperate and tropical waters
  • Threatened by commercial fishing of other species (mainly tuna)



The Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

humpback whale

  • Use bubble net feeding to feed on small shrimp and fish
    • Bubble net feeding: circling around their prey while blowing continuous air from their blowholes. Trapping their prey between the air and the surface, where other pod members then feed.
  • Sexual maturity at 6-10 years
  • Location: Most widely dispersed animal, found throughout all oceans, migrate to tropical waters to give birth
  • Endangered species, threatened by pollution, habitat destruction, fishing, and whale watching



Where in Costa Rica can you spot these Cetacean populations?


If you are lucky, almost anywhere on the Pacific side! However, the most common place to have these magical encounters is in Golfo Dulce. Golfo Dulce is on the Osa peninsula, which is the southern most peninsula in Costa Rica. It is one of the most biologically intense places on the Earth!

CR Cetacean map



What can we do to help the majestic creatures?

The main goal for the cetacean species in Costa Rica is to create marine protected areas for them. The protection of marine mammals is lacking due to the fact that we know so little about them. Through research and volunteering we are hoping to gain more knowledge on the species distribution, habitat preferences, health and abundance.


  • Watch our pollution, and clean up any garbage or trash seen
  • Be cautious of going on whale sighting tours, as human contact can disturb our cetacean habitats and migratory patterns
  • Volunteer to help conduct research, your findings may help develop a marine protected area!
    • Join a safeguarding expedition with EarthWatch Institute in Gulfo Ducle!
      • Find more information about their expeditions at: