Whales, Dolphins, and Sea Turtles are just some of the amazing creatures you can find in the abundant waters around Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica.
Dolphins live primarily off of fish and squid found in shallow tropical seas. Most live in the ocean however there are 5 species of dolphins that live in rivers! Dolphins are very energetic animals that love to follow seabirds, whales, and fishing boats hoping for scraps to eat. They practice swimming on the side of ships to conserve energy. They tend to jump out of the water to view their surroundings, get social interaction, and synchronize their movements. In order to sleep without drowning, only half of a dolphin’s brain sleeps at a time, while the other half controls breathing!
Green Sea Turtles are found in 139 countries, making them the most widespread of all turtle species. The Leatherback is the only one without a shell. The part that looks like a shell is actually leathery skin with oily tissue. As an endangered species, they have been declining at a scary rate and their numbers are down 95% since 1980! They are not the only endangered turtle species – Hawksbill turtle shells have been harvested since the time of the Egyptians. The trade of these shells is banned internationally but it’s still practiced illegally. Other major threats to turtles include the poaching of adults and eggs for food, getting caught and drowning in fishing nets, development on or near nesting beaches, and the pollution of oceans.
Whales are marine mammals. They nurse their babies and must come above the water to breathe. The warm air that they exhale creates a cloud such as our breath does on a cold day. People spot them from far away by looking for these clouds. Those that are found in the northern and southern hemispheres never breed with each other. They naturally follow opposite migration patterns. Scientists can tell how old a whale is by the layers of earwax they have! Whales are the largest animals in the world and a blue whale’s tongue is so big that an elephant could sit on it! Its heart is the same size as a car! The babies are born around 7 meters long and they gain 4.5 kilos of weight per hour! Humpback whales are another well-known species. A famous Humpback is named Migaloo. He made headlines in 1991 because he was the only known albino in his species. Another all white Humpback was found in 2006. He was a baby found alongside his dark colored mother.