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Report highlights challenges for Costa Rican fisheries

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A sea turtle comes up for a breather. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Long-lining a huge threat to sea turtles and sharks

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Despite its reputation as an eco-haven, some research suggests that Costa Rica’s longline fisheries pose a significant threat to sea turtles and sharks.

Ecologists studying the impacts suggest that more regulation is needed. Well-timed and targeted closures in critical areas could go a long way toward protecting sensitive species — and to ensuring a sustainable fishing industry.

The findings from a recent round of studies were published recently in the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, based on research conducted by a team including scientists from Drexel University, the Costa Rican non-profit conservation organization Pretoma andThe Leatherback Trust, a U.S. non-profit working in Costa Rica. Continue reading

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U.S. and Costa Rica parks strengthen conservation ties

Rincón de la Vieja Volcano, in Guanacaste National Park, Costa Rica. Photo via the Creative Commons.

New agreement to boost joint planning efforts

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A new international agreement between U.S. National Park Service and Costa Rica’s Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservacion will step up cooperation for planning, development, management and operation of protected natural parks and cultural sites.

The two agencies will also share information in fire management and control, climate change adaptation, marine protected areas and the development of educational and public information.

National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis and his Costa Rican counterpart, Rafael Gutierrez Rojas, signed the deal this week, formalizing historic conservation partnerships between the two countries. Continue reading

Study: Global warming could all but wipe out leatherback sea turtle populations by the end of the century

A leatherback sea turtle at sea. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Hotter and drier beaches threatens reproduction

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Hotter and drier beaches all but wipe out eastern Pacific populations of  leatherback sea turtles by the end of the century, according researchers from Drexel University who said the global warming could hinder the species ability to recover from other threats, including egg poaching and entanglement in fishing nets.

If climate patterns follow projections used in the study, the eastern Pacific population of leatherback turtles will decline by 75 percent by the year 2100.

“We used three models of this leatherback population to construct a climate-forced population dynamics model. Two parts were based on the population’s observed sensitivity to the nesting beach climate and one part was based on its sensitivity to the ocean climate,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Vincent Saba, a research fishery biologist with the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Northeast Fisheries Science Center, visiting research collaborator at Princeton University, and a Drexel University alumnus. Continue reading

Oceans: Hammerhead sharks may get more protection

Scalloped hammerhead shark via Wikipedia and a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Costa Rica, Honduras propose listing scalloped hammerheads under interntational trade agreement

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Two Caribbean nations this week moved to try and protect threatened hammerhead sharks from overfishing under an international trade agreement.

Costa Rica and Honduras proposed listing scalloped hammerhead sharks under an appendix to to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), considered to be one of the best-enforced international conservation agreements. Regulation under the appendix ensures that trade is sustainable and legal. Appendix II covers species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction but could become so unless trade is closely controlled. Continue reading

CMC taking applications for study abroad programs

Study ‘art and resistance’ in Guatemala

Spend time exploring the incredible Mayan ruins of Tikal during Colorado Mountain College’s Guatemala: Art and Resistance class in March 2012. Photo Bob Gumbrecht.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Colorado Mountain College is taking applications for its international programs study abroad courses, including art and culture in Guatemala and Spanish immersion courses in Costa Rica.

Spend time in Spain, Costa Rica, Guatemala or Ireland and earn college credit through Colorado Mountain College’s International Programs study abroad courses:

  • Spring semester in Spain, Jan. 17-April 7, with a cultural seminar in Madrid, Jan. 17-22; earn credits in Spanish and literature. Application deadline Nov. 21. Contact Mary Ebuna, 719-486-4224, mebuna@coloradomtn.edu.
  • Guatemala: Art and Resistance, March 1-11; earn credits in art and political science while you learn about Guatemalan painting, weaving, pottery and architecture in the context of the country’s tumultuous political and social history. Application deadline Dec. 2. Contact Bob Gumbrecht, rgumbrecht@coloradomtn.edu, 970-870-4484; or Cynthia Zyzda, czyzda@coloradomtn.edu, 970-870-4432.
  • International business and literature in Dublin, May 16-June 16; earn credits in literature and/or business. Application deadline March 16. Contact Jeffrey Runyon, 719-486‐4240, jrunyon@coloradomtn.edu.
  • Spanish immersion and home stay in Alajuela, Costa Rica, June 30-July 28; earn credits in Spanish. Application deadline April 1. Contact Lauren DeAre, 970-319-5817, ldeare@coloradomtn.edu.

Past participants have included college students working toward a degree and community members looking for a learning experience. For more about Colorado Mountain College’s International Programs, go to coloradomtn.edu/InternationalPrograms.

Through Spanish immersion and other international classes, Colorado Mountain College students have the chance to study language and culture, and earn college credit, while experiencing the world.

A day at the huge market in Chichicastenango is one of the highlights of this spring’s Guatemala: Art and Resistance class at Colorado Mountain College. Photo Bob Gumbrecht.

Morning photo: Marie Selby Gardens, Sarasota

Epiphytes … and more

Orchids bloom in a sea of Spanish moss at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

SUMMIT COUNTY — We generally think of plants as deriving their nutrition mostly from soil, through a root system, but there is an entire family — the epiphytes, with more than 2,000 species — that lives in a non-parastic association with other plants. The group includes mosses, orchids and bromeliads, and one of the best places to see and learn about them is at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida.

The garden music spring series runs every Sunday through early May. Click on the photo for details on the upcoming concerts.

Continue reading

Costa Rica protects huge marine area at Cocos Island

Hammerhead sharks, leatherback turtles to be protected under new fishing rules

Costa Rica's Cocos Island boasts more sharks per cubic yard of water than perhaps any other place on the planet, including whitetip reef sharks, 40-foot whale sharks, and hammerheads that school by the hundreds. Now these and other apex predators and flagship species, crucial to healthy ocean ecosystems, can swim a little easier - thanks to new protective measures by Costa Rica. © Conservation International/ photo by Sterling Zumbrunn

Endangered Leatherback turtles will benefit from a new protected area around Costa Rica's Cocos Island. © Conservation International. Jason Bradley photo/bradleyphotographic.com.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A newly designated marine reserve around Costa Rica’s Cocos Island will help protect endangered species like hammerhead sharks and leatherback turtles. New rules will also help recover fish stocks that are important to local communities, according to Conservation International, a nonprofit group that worked with the Costa Rican government to establish the management area.

The new conservation rules will likely forbid fishing altogether in some zones, and limit it to sustainable levels in the rest of the area.

The Seamounts Marine Management Area encompasses a UNESCO World Heritage Site and covers about 2.45 million acres — bigger than Yellowstone National Park. Only Galapagos National Park protects a larger area in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. Continue reading

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