PHOTO REPORT: Fishing net kills humpback whale in Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park

October 17, 2013

Park rangers found deep rope marks and pieces of fishing net on the body of a juvenile humpback whale that washed onto the shores of Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park, on the Osa Peninsula in the southern region, on Monday. A park guide spotted the dead whale from a boat in the remote Punta la Chancha section of the park.

“Its entire tail was wrapped in the type of cords that are used in a trammel net,” Eliecer Arce, the park’s administrator, told The Tico Times. “I am positive that this was the cause of death.”

Though the body of the whale was found within the boundaries of the park, the protected area only extends for the first 500 meters of ocean outside of Corcovado. According to Arce, the fishing boat was likely outside of the park limits, where trammel nets are legal, when it ensnared the whale.

Punta la Chancha is difficult to reach and park rangers will not be able to move or bury the whale’s body. That portion of the park is currently closed to tourists and will remain so for the month it will take for the whale to decompose.

Trammel and gill nets pose the biggest bycatch threat to whales and other large marine mammals according to the World Wildlife Foundation. Trammel nets are legal in most of Costa Rica’s coastal territory.  

Whale front

This juvenile whale was found dead Monday in Corcovado National Park. Courtesy of Álvaro Montoya and Corcovado National Park

whale body

Park rangers estimate it will take at least a month for the whale’s body to decompose. Courtesy of Álvaro Montoya and Corcovado National Park

whale body 2

A park guide spotted the dead whale from a boat while entering the park. Courtesy of Álvaro Montoya and Corcovado National Park

whaletail

A fishing net left deep marks in the whale’s skin. Photo courtesy of Hayder Santamaría and Corcovado National Park

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