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Ballena Marine

The word “Ballena” means whale." This park received this name because of the shape of the rocky formation on the beach that resembles the tail of a whale. From this peaceful setting you can enjoy watching whales and dolphins. Here, marine species are protected from overfishing and exploitive commercial practices for the preservation of marine life, the protection of the coral reef, and well-being of local fishers. This park is part of the Osa Conservation Area.

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Ballena Marine National Park protects 5,375 Ha. of the sea and 115 ha of land. Within the boundaries of the park live amazing coral forming incredible reef structures. Supplementing the live coral, are rock formations forming reefs of their own. But, in addition to the permanent life that the occupy the park, there are a vast plethora of mobile animals that need this national park. The coral reef is one of the best developed of the Central Pacific, and the diversity of species is uncountable. Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatum) and common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) can be seen close to the shore year-round. This park is the perfect spot to watch the migration  giants of the sea such as the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). These huge (up to 15 m length= 50 feet) aquatic mammals come from the North (July to October) or from the South (December to March) during their breeding season.

Also, the beaches are pristine and home to several specials of wildlife and mangroves as well. On land, you will find a variety of sea birds and reptiles who call this park home. The park plays a key role in providing a safe harbor to these animals who seem to be dwindling due to the existence of humans invading their normal habitats.

The park is not an easy destination to get to, so it remains very quiet. To many, this is the main reason to visit the area, being one can enjoy a completely private beach. Not to mention the wildlife sightings are abundant due to the lack of tourists.

Being the park is very remote, it may be helpful to know what to do and where to go in the park.  The park is located 17 km (9.3 miles) from Dominical beach (it is easy if you come from the town of San Isidro del General), and the main entrance is next to the Costanera Sur highway near Playa Bahia. There is a ranger station and some facilities for the visitors. This park is part of the Osa Conservation Area (ACOSA).  For avid snorkelers, Punta Uvita provides some spectacular underwater vistas. The point is accessible in low tides by foot, or you can hire a boat for a paid snorkle tour. Be aware of the strong currents in some areas, especially at the mouth of the river. The strong currents are a benefit to surfers, as there have been reported to be some decent waves here at the mouth as well.

Sources: ACOSA ; Saenz J., G. Wong, E. Carrillo. 2004. Ballenas y delfines de América Central. Editorial INBio. 155 p.; Wehrtmann, I., &  J. Cortés. 2009. Marine Biodiversity of Costa Rica, Central America. Monographiae biologicae 86. Springer. 538 p.

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