Transcript: Great Blue Wild - series 2 - Episode 8 | Nov 25, 2021

(Calm music plays)

An island is covered by a forest.

A narrator says, THE PACIFIC COAST
OF COSTA RICA.

In the ocean is a school of fish.

The narrator says, A BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOT
THAT HOSTS NEARLY 5,000 SPECIES
OF MARINE LIFE.

A turtle swims through the water.

A person says, IT'S JUST BEAUTIFUL,
LIKE AN AQUARIUM
BUT THAT HAS NO LIMITS,
NO WALLS.

The person speaking is a man with short dark hair wearing a black polo shirt. A scuba diver jumps into the ocean from a boat.

The narrator says, BUT HERE
IN THIS UNDERSEA AQUARIUM,
THE OCEAN'S TOP PREDATORS
ARE AT RISK,
THREATENED BY LOSS OF HABITAT
AND OVERFISHING.

A school of fish separate.

A person says, WE EXPOSED THE SITUATION
IN 2004.
WE HAD TO TAKE THE COSTA RICAN
GOVERNMENT TO COURT.

A school of fish separate. People kneel on a boat.

The narrator says, NOW, COSTA RICA'S MARINE
DEFENDERS ARE TEAMING UP
TO CREATE A SAFER HOME
FOR THESE ENDANGERED ANIMALS
AND TO SAVE THEM
FROM EXTINCTION.

A hammerhead shark pup is released into the ocean from a boat. A larger fish swims through a school of smaller fish.

(Bright music plays)

Big and small islands are grouped together. Underwater, a large shark is followed by smaller fish. Scuba divers swim close by. Two dolphins swim just below the surface. A turtle swims close to the floor of the ocean. A manta ray glides through the water. A shark swims just below the surface.

Great Blue Wild.

Waves crash on a beach.

The narrator says, THE SOUTHWESTERN TIP
OF COSTA RICA
IS ONE OF THE MOST BIOLOGICALLY
DIVERSE PLACES ON EARTH.

A forest covers a large amount of land.

The narrator says, IT'S A PRIMITIVE DREAMLAND
OF RAINFORESTS,
PRISTINE BEACHES,
AND STUNNING NATURAL WONDERS,
LIKE GOLFO DULCE,
ONE OF JUST FOUR TROPICAL FJORDS
IN THE WORLD.

Water near a beach is light blue. An animation of the Earth rotates.

The narrator says, COSTA RICA IS NESTLED
BETWEEN THE PACIFIC OCEAN
AND THE CARIBBEAN SEA,
IN THE HEART OF CENTRAL AMERICA.

The Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea are identified on the Earth.. Cost Rica is highlighted on the Earth.

The narrator says, IT'S THE THIRD-SMALLEST COUNTRY
IN CENTRAL AMERICA,
YET ITS INTERNATIONAL BOUNDARIES
EXTEND OVER A SWATH OF OCEAN
FAR LARGER THAN CALIFORNIA.

Small fish swim in the ocean.

The narrator says, GOLFO DULCE IS THE WORLD'S
10TH DEEPEST GULF,
REACHING DEPTHS
OF MORE THAN 200 METRES.
IT'S ONE OF THE LEAST-EXPLORED
UNDERWATER ENVIRONMENTS
IN COSTA RICA.

Rays swim over the ocean floor.

The narrator says, BUT FOR LOCAL MARINE BIOLOGISTS
LIKE ANDRES LOPEZ,
ONE THING IS KNOWN:
GOLFO DULCE IS ESSENTIAL
TO THE SURVIVAL
OF THE EASTERN PACIFIC'S
HAMMERHEAD SHARK.

Hammerhead sharks swim together. A man with dark hair and blue, yellow and white striped swim shorts sits on a boat. He speaks in a foreign language.

Text reads, we’re in Golfito, Golfo Dulce - an important fishing community of the southern Pacific coast where we work with hammerhead sharks and have identified an important nursery area for this endangered species. Hammerhead sharks are born very close to this area and we’re precisely here to look for the smaller ones, which we hope to find today.

A hammerhead shark swims through the ocean.

The narrator says, THE PURPOSE
OF THIS RESEARCH TRIP
IS TO LEARN
HOW SHARKS USE THIS GULF
THROUGHOUT THEIR LIFETIME,
WHEN THEY'RE IN GOLFO DULCE,
AND HOW LONG THEY STAY.

A shark swims through the ocean.

The narrator says, TODAY, LOPEZ RECRUITS THE HELP
OF TRADITIONAL FISHERMEN
TO LOCATE
AND CATCH YOUNG SHARKS.
THESE MEN ARE PART
OF A LOCAL COMMUNITY
COMMITTED TO PROTECTING
THE SHARKS OF GOLFO DULCE
THROUGH SUSTAINABLE
FISHING PRACTICES.

Small fish hang from a fishing line a man holds. The man wears a white shirt, hat and sunglasses.

The narrator says, SHARK PUPS
ARE NOT YET SKILLED HUNTERS.
THEY FEED
ON SMALL BOTTOM DWELLERS
LIKE SARDINE AND MACKEREL.

The man wearing sunglasses dices a fish.

The narrator says, THE FISHERMEN WILL USE BOTH
TO BAIT THE SMALL SHARKS
THAT PROWL THESE WATERS
IN SEARCH OF AN EASY MEAL.

A man wearing a blue shirt and blue shorts holds a fishing rod.

The narrator says, LOPEZ HOPES TO CATCH JUVENILES
THAT ARE STRONG
AND HEALTHY ENOUGH
TO ENDURE THE QUICK SURGERY
REQUIRED
TO INSERT AN ACOUSTIC
TAG INTO THEIR LOWER SIDE.

A small shark swims with a tag in its top fin. A person speaks in a foreign language.

Text reads, basically, these tags tell us the position, number and temperature of the tagged shark as well as the time and date of their visit to this area. Underwater, fish swim above a device in the water below them.

The person speaking is Lopez, the man with dark hair and striped swim shorts. At the bottom of the ocean, a device is tied to a rope.

The narrator says, A NETWORK OF ACOUSTIC RECEIVERS
INSTALLED OVER A WIDE SWATH
OF COSTA RICAN WATERS
CAN PICK UP THE MOVEMENT
OF ANY TAGGED SHARK
THAT COMES WITHIN NEARLY 1 KILOMETRE.
THESE RECEIVERS REVEAL CLUES
IN THE LIFE OF THE HAMMERHEADS:
FROM HOW THEY SPEND
THEIR EARLY YEARS IN THE GULF,
TO WHERE THEY MIGRATE
AS ADULTS,
AND WHAT HAPPENS
WHEN THEY LEAVE THEIR SAFE HAVEN
IN GOLFO DULCE
IN SEARCH OF LARGER PREY.

Hammerhead sharks swim with other fish.

The narrator says, IN GOLFO DULCE ALONE,
RECEIVERS HAVE RECORDED
THE PRESENCE OF SHARKS
ON MORE THAN 10,000
SEPARATE OCCASIONS.

Lopez scuba dives. He adjusts one of the devices tied to the bottom of the ocean.

The narrator says, AT THE MOMENT,
THERE IS A HEALTHY NUMBER
OF SHARKS IN THE GULF.
LOPEZ WANTS TO ENSURE
IT STAYS THAT WAY.

Lopez removes a piece of the device.

The narrator says, HE WILL USE THE DATA
COLLECTED HERE
TO LOBBY FOR THE CREATION
OF A HAMMERHEAD SHARK SANCTUARY
AT GOLFO DULCE.

Lopez speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, we’re here searching for sharks one metre in size. That means sharks that have reached the first year of life. We’re taking our chances, we may not find anything. Or we may find exactly what we need.

The groups boat is not far from shore. The man wearing sunglasses holds a fishing rod. A man wearing a green shirt and orange hat slowly reels in his fishing line.

The narrator says, HOURS PASS WITH NO LUCK.

Lopez looks disappointed.

(indiscernible chatter)

The narrator says, THEN THE FISHERMEN
FINALLY MAKE A CATCH.

The man wearing sunglasses holds a hand held fishing net in the water. The man wearing blue shorts reels in his fishing line with a small shark on the end.

The narrator says, IT'S A SMALL BLACKTIP,
ONE OF 10 SPECIES OF SHARK
FOUND IN GOLFO DULCE.

The blacktip tries to escape but the man wearing sunglasses catches it with the net.

(Chatter)

The narrator says, THE CREW RUSHES
TO PREPARE THE TAGGING.
THE SHARK SHOULD ONLY BE
OUT OF THE WATER
FOR A MAXIMUM OF TWO MINUTES.

The man with dark hair gets the small blacktip out of the net.

The narrator says, FISHERMEN CAREFULLY REMOVE
THE HOOK,
BUT WORKING ON THIS SMALL SHARK
IS NO EASY TASK.
WHAT IT LACKS IN SIZE,
IT MAKES UP FOR IN STRENGTH.

The shark tries to escape.

Lopez holds a measuring tape beside the fish.

The narrator says, LOPEZ MEASURES THE SHARK.
THIS ONE 72 CENTIMETRES,
TOO SMALL
FOR AN INTERNAL ACOUSTIC TAG.

Lopez writes on a notepad.

The narrator says, HE CHECKS THE SEX OF THE PUP.
IT'S A FEMALE.

Lopez makes another note.

The narrator says, THEN FITS HER UPPER FIN
WITH A PLASTIC TAG
AND APPLIES A MEDICINAL SPRAY
TO HEAL THE CUT.

Lopez sprays blacktips top fin where the tag was added.

The narrator says, SHE'S NOW ASSIGNED A NUMBER
TO BE ENTERED
IN THE GOLFO DULCE SHARK CENSUS.

Lopez returns the blacktip to the ocean.

The narrator says, IF SHE'S RE-CAUGHT
IN THE FUTURE,
LOPEZ WILL BE ABLE TO MONITOR
HER GROWTH
AND HOPEFULLY INSERT
AN ACOUSTIC TAG
TO TRACK HER EXACT MOVEMENTS
AS SHE GROWS OLDER.

The man wearing blue shorts stands with a fishing rod.

The narrator says, WHERE THERE'S ONE PUP,
THERE ARE OFTEN MANY MORE.

The man kneels on a bench in the boat.

The narrator says, UNFORTUNATELY
FOR THE TEAM THOUGH,
THE SWELL HAS CHANGED
AND IS NOW BRINGING
LESS SEDIMENT INTO THESE WATERS.
WITH FEWER NUTRIENTS TO FEED ON,
THE SMALL PREY FISH
LEAVE THE AREA
AND SO DO THE SHARK PUPS.
THE CREW WILL NEED
TO RETURN TOMORROW BEFORE DAWN
TO TRY THEIR LUCK AGAIN.

The man in the blue shorts drives the boat. In a time-lapse, the sun sets over a beach. During the day, a boat speeds through water.

The narrator says, JUST AFTER SUNRISE,
LOPEZ AND HIS CREW
RETURN TO THE FISHING SPOT
TO CONTINUE THEIR SEARCH
FOR HAMMERHEAD SHARKS.

The man wearing a green shirt and orange hat works on a fishing line. Lopez speaks in a foreign language.

Text reads, We’re in Punta Piedra, one of the places we visited yesterday, but at a different time of day. We’re hoping the change of tide will help us find the hammerhead sharks. Let’s see if we get lucky today.

The man wearing sunglasses dices fish.

The narrator says, THE FISHERMEN HELPING LOPEZ
KNOW THE AREA WELL.
THEIR EXPERTISE IS VITAL
TO THE SUCCESS OF THE RESEARCH.

The man in the green shirt lowers an anchor into the water.

The narrator says, THEY PICK A PRIME SPOT
TO ANCHOR THE BOAT,
AND IN NO TIME,
THE SHARK PUPS START TO BITE.

The man in the blue shorts reels in his fishing line.

One of the men speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, pass the net.

A small shark tries to escape the fishing line.

One of the men speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, what is it?

The man in the green shirt holds the hand-held net.

One of the men speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, it’s a small one.

One of the men speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, sharpnose or blacktip?

The man in the green shirt reaches into the water with the net and catches the small shark.

The narrator says, IT'S A SHARPNOSE.
UNLIKE BLACKTIPS
AND HAMMERHEADS,
SHARPNOSE SHARKS ARE PERMANENT
RESIDENTS OF GOLFO DULCE.

The man in the green shirt holds the small shark down.

Someone speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, male.

One of the men puts a measuring tape beside the sharpnose shark.

Someone speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, male, 53 and 43 centimetres.

Lopez speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, this is a juvenile, a sharpnose juvenile.

Lopez writes on a notepad.

He speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, we can’t insert the acoustic tag because it’s not big enough. We could cause some internal damage.

The narrator says, LOPEZ NEEDS TO MOVE QUICKLY
WITH THIS LITTLE SHARPNOSE,
BECAUSE THE FISHERMEN
HAVE CAUGHT ANOTHER SHARK.

Lopez carries the sharpnose. At the side of the boat, the man wearing sunglasses holds the hand held net while the man in the green shirt holds the fishing rod that has caught a small shark.

One of the men speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, this is a hammerhead.

Another man speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, grab the hammerhead, give it priority!

(Chatter)

Lopez rushes to the man with sunglasses who has the net. The man with the net tries to catch the shark.

Someone speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, should I bring it closer?

Lopez speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, ready. Thanks man. Grab it Donald, we got a hammerhead. The man in blue shorts holds the small hammerhead in tub of water at the back of the boat.

The narrator says, THE SHARK'S SMALL SIZE
CAN ONLY MEAN ONE THING,
THIS HAMMERHEAD IS A NEWBORN,
THE FIRST HAMMERHEAD PUP
TO BE TAGGED THIS SEASON.

Lopez speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, these are the first hammerheads that come to Golfo Dulce.

The man in the blue shorts holds the hammerhead pup.

Lopez speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, this one is a female.

Lopez writes on a notepad.

He speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, here’s the belly button opening from which she was attached to her mom. This is where she got feeding fluids from.

Lopez measures the hammerhead pup.

He speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, we already measured, she’s 52 centimetres. The ID number is 436.

Lopez attaches a tag to the hammerhead pup.

He speaks in a foreign language. Text reads, we need a bigger one to perform the surgery.

Lopez returns the hammerhead pup to the water.

The narrator says, THE NEWBORN HAMMERHEAD
WILL SPEND THE NEXT THREE YEARS
IN THE GULF,
UNTIL SHE'S LARGE ENOUGH
TO MIGRATE TO THE OCEANIC
ISLANDS OF THE EASTERN PACIFIC.

The hammerhead pup swims just below the surface of the water.

(Calm music plays)

The narrator says, SHE'S JUST ONE-AND-A-HALF FEET
LONG NOW
BUT THE PUP
WILL NEARLY QUADRUPLE IN SIZE
BY THE TIME
SHE BECOMES AN ADULT.
FIFTEEN YEARS WILL PASS BEFORE
SHE REACHES SEXUAL MATURITY.
AT THIS POINT,
SHE WILL JOURNEY BACK
THROUGH THE OPEN WATERS
OF THE EASTERN PACIFIC,
RETURN TO HER BIRTHPLACE
IN GOLFO DULCE
AND GIVE BIRTH TO HER OWN PUPS.

A hammerhead shark swims through the ocean. On the boat, the man in the blue shorts reels in his fishing line.

The narrator says, BACK ON THE BOAT,
THE FISHERMEN HAVE CAUGHT
ANOTHER NEWBORN HAMMERHEAD.
THIS ONE APPEARS
TO BE JUST A FEW WEEKS OLD.

The man in the green shirt catches the hammerhead with the hand-held net.

The narrator says, IT'S ONLY MARCH,
PREGNANT FEMALES AREN'T EXPECTED
TO PUP HERE UNTIL MAY.

The man in the blue shorts holds the hammerhead pup.

The narrator says, THE WARMER WATERS
CAUSED BY EL NIÑO
MAY HAVE HASTENED
THE BREEDING SEASON.
THE HAMMERHEAD JUVENILES
KEEP BITING.
IT SEEMS THE NURSERY
IS BURSTING WITH LIFE.
IT'S GOOD NEWS FOR SHARK
CONSERVATIONISTS IN COSTA RICA
AND A REMINDER OF THE VALUE
OF THE RESPONSIBLE FISHING
PRACTICED HERE
IN GOLFO DULCE.

In the ocean, a group of rays swim together.

The narrator says, AS WELL AS THE HAMMERHEADS,
THIS HEALTHY ECOSYSTEM
IS HOME TO AT LEAST
SEVEN DIFFERENT SPECIES OF RAYS,
LIKE THE GOLDEN COWNOSE RAY.

A school of golden cownose rays swim together.

The narrator says, THIS LARGE SCHOOL HAS COME
TO GOLFO DULCE
TO FEED ON MOLLUSCS
THAT GROW
IN THE NUTRIENT-RICH SEDIMENT
WASHING IN FROM A NEARBY RIVER.
THE RAYS' FLEXIBLE FINS
STIR UP THE SEABED
TO REVEAL OYSTERS AND SHELLFISH,
WHICH THE RAYS CRUSH
WITH A DOZEN ROWS
OF POWERFUL GRINDING TEETH.

The rays swim close to the floor of the ocean.

The narrator says, THEY'RE STRONG SWIMMERS,
ABLE TO COVER LONG DISTANCES,
AND MIGRATE IN THE WINTER
IN SCHOOLS
THAT CAN NUMBER
IN THE THOUSANDS.

The rays flap their fins as they swim.

The narrator says, LONGTAIL STINGRAYS
ALSO SCOUR THE GULF FLOOR
IN SEARCH OF MOLLUSCS
AND CRUSTACEANS.

A longtail stingray skims the gulf floor.

The narrator says, AT THE BASE
OF THE STINGRAY'S TAIL
IS A POWERFUL
AND POTENTIALLY DEADLY WEAPON.
IT'S A SERRATED BARB,
WHICH, WHEN THRUST INTO FLESH,
SECRETES AN EXCRUCIATING VENOM
THAT DISSOLVES IN THE WOUND
AND IS ABSORBED
IN THE BLOODSTREAM.
THE RAY USES ITS STINGER
TO DEFEND ITSELF FROM SHARKS
AND OTHER PREDATORS.
THIS RAY IS MISSING PART
OF ITS TAIL,
POSSIBLY BITTEN OFF BY A SHARK.
OR CAUGHT IN A CREVICE
IN THE REEF.
WITHOUT THE END OF ITS TAIL,
THE RAY HAS NO STINGER
AND WILL NEED TO BE VIGILANT
ABOUT PREDATORS.
HAMMERHEADS PREY ON RAYS,
AND,
BASED ON THE HAMMERHEAD PUPS
CAUGHT BY LOPEZ AND HIS TEAM,
THERE ARE PLENTY OF ADULT
FEMALE SHARKS IN THESE WATERS.

Lopez stands on the boat. He speaks in a foreign language.

Text reads, we’re very happy we came here today. The location selection was ideal. The two hammerhead sharks we tagged were under one metre in length - which is the maturity size. I dare say they were born just one or two weeks ago. The first two hammerheads to arrive this year. And we have to guarantee they stay here. We have to protect this place.

The narrator says, GOLFO DULCE IS JUST ONE OF
SEVERAL CRITICAL SHARK HABITATS
SPREAD ALONG 1,000 KILOMETRES
OF COSTA RICA'S WESTERN COAST.
COSTA RICAN WATERS ARE HOME
TO NEARLY 7,000 SPECIES
OF WILDLIFE.

A school of fish swim close together. A ray rests on the floor of the ocean.

The narrator says, YET JUST 1 PER CENT
OF COSTA RICAN SEAS
ARE PROTECTED
AS MARINE SANCTUARIES.

A turtle dives down through the water.

Lopez speaks in a foreign language.

Text reads, the hammerhead shark is the most emblematic shark in Costa Rican waters. Why do we have to protect it? Because if we protect it, we protect the different species underneath it. The hammerhead is an “umbrella” species, a top predator, the species that regulates the food chain. They are in charge of keeping the balance and the equilibrium humans have deteriorated in the last few decades. Therefore, our mission is a tough one. It’s difficult, but not impossible.

Sharks swim through the water.

The narrator says, APEX PREDATORS,
LIKE THE HAMMERHEAD,
ARE AN ESSENTIAL PART
OF THE OCEAN ECOSYSTEM.
BIG EATERS,
THEY CONTROL THE POPULATION
OF OTHER SPECIES.
BUT GLOBAL SHARK POPULATIONS
ARE DECLINING
AT A RATE OF ABOUT
100 MILLION SHARKS EACH YEAR.
A DRASTIC DECLINE
IN THE NUMBER OF LARGE SHARKS
CAN HAVE A RIPPLE EFFECT,
ALLOWING PREY POPULATIONS
TO BLOAT
AND UPSETTING THE DELICATE
BALANCE OF THE OCEANIC FOOD WEB.

Sharks swim just above the ocean floor.

The narrator says, TODAY, MORE THAN ONE-QUARTER
OF THE WORLD'S SHARK SPECIES
ARE AT RISK OF EXTINCTION.

A hammerhead shark swims through the ocean.

The narrator says, IN COSTA RICA,
THE MAIN THREAT TO SHARKS
IS THE LACK OF PROTECTION
OUTSIDE OF MARINE SANCTUARIES.
WHEN A SHARK LEAVES
THE SAFE WATERS OF GOLFO DULCE,
IT MUST TRAVEL THROUGH 300 MILES
OF UNPROTECTED OCEAN
BEFORE IT REACHES
THE NEXT MARINE RESERVE.
ON THIS STRETCH OF COASTLINE,
SHARKS FIND
MUCH-NEEDED SANCTUARY.
THE PACIFIC COAST OF COSTA RICA
HOSTS A WIDE RANGE OF HABITATS;
FROM MANGROVE FORESTS
AND ROCKY COASTLINES
TO SHIMMERING LAGOONS
AND SANDY BEACHES.

(Waves crashing)

The narrator says, LIKE GOLFO DULCE,
THESE COASTAL ENVIRONMENTS ACT
AS NURSERIES
PROVIDING PROTECTION
FOR NEWBORN FISH
THAT WILL EVENTUALLY GROW
AND MAKE THEIR WAY OUT
TO CORAL REEFS
AND THE OPEN OCEAN BEYOND.
THEY ALSO OFFER SEASONAL REFUGE
FOR MIGRATORY ANIMALS.

A shark swims beside coral.

The narrator says, SHARKS.

A turtle swims upwards beside coral.

The narrator says, TURTLES.

Dolphins leap through the water.

The narrator says, AND DOLPHINS STOP HERE
BEFORE EMBARKING
ON MARATHON JOURNEYS
ACROSS ONE OF THE WORLD'S
LARGEST MARINE CORRIDORS:
THE EASTERN TROPICAL
PACIFIC SEASCAPE.

(Calm music plays)

A graphic of the Earth highlights the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape in blue to the left of Costa Rica.

The narrator says, IT'S COMPRISED OF THE WATERS,
COASTS AND ISLANDS
OFF THE SHORES OF COSTA RICA,
PANAMA, COLOMBIA AND ECUADOR.

The graphic highlights Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador in green.

The narrator says, AND COVERS
NEARLY 2 MILLION SQUARE KILOMETRES.
AN AREA NEARLY
THREE TIMES THE SIZE OF TEXAS.

A shark swims through the ocean.

The narrator says, THE EASTERN TROPICAL
PACIFIC SEASCAPE
IS ONE OF THE WORLD'S
RICHEST MARINE HABITATS
AND IS HEAVILY TRAVELLED BY
LARGE, MIGRATORY SEA CREATURES.

Hammerhead sharks swim together around small fish. Elsewhere, other sharks swim around coral.

(Calm music plays)

Lopez speaks in a foreign language.

Text reads, in the sea we have a mountain range called the Cocos Ridge. It’s a highway which destination is Cocos Island. The mountain range, or submarine ridge, is a corridor used by hammerhead sharks, green turtles and whale sharks.

A rocky mountain stands tall in the ocean.

The narrator says, 500 KILOMETRES OFF SHORE
IS COCOS ISLAND.
IT'S COSTA RICA'S
ONLY OCEANIC ISLAND
AND HAS THE HIGHEST
CONCENTRATION
OF ADULT HAMMERHEAD SHARKS
IN THE COUNTRY.
THE RENOWNED OCEANOGRAPHER
JACQUES COUSTEAU CALLED COCOS
'THE WORLD'S MOST
BEAUTIFUL ISLAND.'

A forest surrounds a waterfall.

The narrator says, IT COVERS JUST 13 SQUARE KILOMETRES,
YET IT HOSTS 40 PERCENT
OF COSTA RICA'S ENDEMIC SPECIES.

Sharks swim together.

The narrator says, SHARKS BORN AT GOLFO DULCE
MIGRATE OUT TO COCOS ISLAND
WHEN THEY'RE THREE YEARS OLD.
THEY'RE JOINED
BY MIGRATORY HAMMERHEADS
FROM THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS,
COIBA ISLAND
OFF THE COAST OF PANAMA
AND COLOMBIA'S MALPELO ISLAND.

Lopez speaks in a foreign language.

Text reads, hammerhead sharks are highly migratory. They are born in Costa Rica but they really move across the entire corridor and this corridor has waters from Colombia, Ecuador and Panama. Thus, hammerhead sharks don’t belong to Costa Rica, they belong to the world.

Hammerheads swim together. Land is covered with tall mountains and forests.

The narrator says, THE MARINE-PROTECTED AREA
THAT SURROUNDS THE ISLAND
EXTENDS
FOR NEARLY 10,000 SQUARE KILOMETRES,
FIVE TIMES LARGER
THAN THE ACTUAL NATIONAL PARK.
BUT COCOS ISLAND
FACES A SERIOUS THREAT:
OVERFISHING ALONG
THE COSTA RICAN COAST
HAS DECIMATED FISH STOCKS.

A boat travels through the ocean.

The narrator says, WITH COASTAL FISHERIES
ALL BUT WIPED OUT
FISHERMEN MOVE CLOSER
TO COCOS ISLAND.
THEY FLOUT THE BAN ON FISHING
AND TAKE EVERYTHING THEY CAN.

Two men in blue shirts sit together. One man has brown hair and sunglasses, the other is bald.

The narrator says, FELIPE CHACON IS A DIVE MASTER
AND SUBMARINE PILOT
WITH MORE THAN 1,200 DIVES
AT COCOS ISLAND.
HE'S WITNESSED A SHARP DECLINE
IN THE NUMBER
OF LARGE-ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS HERE.

A submarine travels underwater close to the bottom of the ocean.

Someone says, I STARTED UH, WORKING
IN COCOS ISLAND IN LATE 2010
AND I SAW SO MANY SPECIES
OF SHARKS,
I SAW HUGE AGGREGATION
OF HAMMERHEADS,
SOMETIMES IN A DIVE
MORE THAN 200 HAMMERHEADS
SWIMMING VERY, VERY CLOSE TO YOU
AND THAT WAS FOR ME
ONE OF THE MOST IMPRESSIVE
AND AMAZING EXPERIENCES
OF MY LIFE.
UNFORTUNATELY, THE MORE I WORK
IN COCOS ISLAND,
AS YEARS STARTED TO PASS,
UH, VERY RAPIDLY I SAW A DECLINE
IN THE NUMBER OF SHARKS
WE WOULD SEE.

The person speaking is a man in a black shirt with dark hair. Text reads, Felipe Chacon, dive master.

The narrator says, THIS DECLINE IS THE DIRECT
RESULT OF OVERFISHING.
THERE ARE MORE LONG-LINER BOATS
IN THE WATERS OFF COSTA RICA
THAN ANYWHERE ELSE IN
THE EASTERN TROPICAL PACIFIC.
MOST OF THESE BOATS TRAVEL
TO COCOS ISLAND
IN SEARCH OF TUNA AND MAHI MAHI.
BUT LONG LINES CATCH ANYTHING
THAT TAKES THE BAIT
ON THEIR HOOKS.

A small boat travels past a larger boat.

The narrator says, ONCE CAUGHT ON A LONG LINE,
SHARKS HAVE LITTLE CHANCE
OF SURVIVAL.

A small shark swims close to the bottom of the ocean.

The narrator says, MANY SPECIES,
SUCH AS THE HAMMERHEAD,
MUST SWIM CONSTANTLY
TO FORCE OXYGENATED WATER
OVER THEIR GILLS.
FISHING LINES AND NETS
TRAP THE SHARKS.
UNABLE TO MOVE,
THEY SLOWLY SUFFOCATE.

An image of a captured hammerhead is displayed.

The narrator says, SHARKS BECOME WHAT'S KNOWN
AS 'INCIDENTAL CATCH'
OR 'BYCATCH'.

An image of a different captured shark is displayed.

The narrator says, BUT THE CAPTURE
OF ENDANGERED SHARKS
IS NOT ALWAYS ACCIDENTAL.

A person says, BEFORE 1982,
COSTA RICA HAD STRICTLY
A COASTAL FISHERY.
BACK IN THOSE YEARS,
THE POLITICIANS WOULD SAY,
"COSTA RICA
HAS SUCH A BIG ECONOMIC ZONE.
WE NEED TO EXPLOIT
THOSE RESOURCES."

The person speaking is a man with dark hair and a greying beard. He wears a brown shirt. Text reads, Randall Arauz, conservationist.

Randall says, SO IN 1982, COSTA RICA INVITED
A MISSION FROM TAIWAN
TO TEACH THE COSTA RICANS
HOW TO EXPLOIT
ALL THOSE OCEAN RESOURCES
THAT WE WERE NOT, YOU KNOW,
ACTUALLY EXPLOITING.
HOWEVER,
WHEN THE TAIWANESE OFFICERS
SAW THE WEALTH OF MARINE FAUNA
AND ALL THE SHARKS
IN COSTA RICA,
THEY REMOVED THEIR DIPLOMATIC,
TECHNICIAN MISSION HATS
AND THEY PUT
THEIR BUSINESS HATS ON
AND THEY TURNED
INTO SHARK FINNERS
AND THEY ESTABLISHED
THE SHARK FINNING INDUSTRY
IN COSTA RICA.

An image of a shark fin being cut off is displayed.

The narrator says, SHARK FINNING IS A RECKLESS
AND BRUTAL FISHING PRACTICE.
FISHERMEN CUT OFF THE FINS
AND DISCARD
THE REST OF THE SHARK.
EACH YEAR,
THOUSANDS OF FINS
TAKEN FROM
THE EASTERN TROPICAL PACIFIC
ARE EXPORTED TO ASIA
FOR SHARK FIN SOUP.

A video of a person hosing down shark fins is displayed.

Randall says, BY 1998, COSTA RICA ALREADY
HAD THE BIGGEST LONG-LINE FLEET
IN LATIN AMERICA,
AND IN FACT WE BECAME THE HUB
OF THE SHARK-FIN INDUSTRY
OPERATING
IN THE EASTERN TROPICAL PACIFIC.

An image of a pile bloody shark fins is displayed.

The narrator says, IN 2003,
ARAUZ AND HIS CONSERVATION
GROUP, PRETOMA,
EXPOSED A TAIWANESE SHIP
ATTEMPTING TO ILLEGALLY LAND
30 TONNES OF SHARK FINS
ON THE COSTA RICAN SHORE.

An image of a person cutting a shark fin is displayed.

The narrator says, THIRTY TONNES OF SHARK FINS
AMOUNTS TO THE DEATHS
OF 30,000 SHARKS.
THIS OUTRAGE WAS JUST THE
BEGINNING OF A 7-YEAR CAMPAIGN
TO HALT THE FINNING INDUSTRY
IN COSTA RICA.

An image of a person slicing off a shark fin is displayed.

The narrator says, PRETOMA TOOK THE COSTA RICAN
GOVERNMENT TO COURT THREE TIMES,
FORCING LAWMAKERS
TO CRACK DOWN ON SHARK FINNING.

An image of a person cutting off a shark fin is displayed.

The narrator says, TARGETING SHARKS FOR THEIR FINS
IS NOW ILLEGAL
THROUGHOUT COSTA RICA,
INCLUDING AT COCOS ISLAND.

Multiple boats are parked at docks.

The narrator says, BUT IT'S AN UPHILL BATTLE.
THE GLOBAL BLACK MARKET
IN SEAFOOD
IS WORTH MORE THAN $20 BILLION.
THE FISHING TOWN OF PUNTARENAS
CONTINUES TO BE A HUB
FOR THE SHARK-FINNING INDUSTRY.
ALTHOUGH SHARKS ARE PROTECTED,
FISHERMEN ARE ALLOWED
TO BRING THEM TO THE DOCKS
IF THEY ARE CONSIDERED
TO BE AN ACCIDENTAL CATCH.

Felipe Chacon says, WHEN YOU WORK IN PUNTARENAS,
YOU DON'T EVEN NEED
TO OPEN YOUR EYES.
JUST INHALE THE AIR
AND THEN YOU CAN SMELL
THE DRYING FINS
ON THE ROOFS
OF THESE PRIVATE DOCKS.

The narrator says, NEARLY ALL
OF COSTA RICA'S SHARK CATCHES
ARE BROUGHT TO THIS TOWN
WHERE FINS ARE LEFT TO DRY OUT
BENEATH FALSE CEILINGS
TO HIDE THE FINNING OPERATIONS.
IT'S BELIEVED AT LEAST
THREE BOATS FULL OF SHARK FINS
ENTER THE PORTS
OF PUNTARENAS EACH WEEK.

Lopez speaks in a foreign language.

Text reads, in Cocos Island, where we have adult hammerheads, there’s a welcoming sign that says: “How many hammerhead sharks do we have?” The answer is very sad, but very real: “Fewer and fewer every day.”

The narrator says, SCALLOPED HAMMERHEAD FINS
CAN FETCH UP TO $50 PER KILOGRAM
FOR EXPORTERS.
BUT SHARKS ARE FAR MORE
VALUABLE ALIVE THAN DEAD.
THROUGHOUT ITS LIFETIME,
A SINGLE SHARK CAN GENERATE
MORE THAN $1.5 MILLION
FOR THE TOURISM ECONOMY.

A shark swims through the ocean.

The narrator says, WHITETIP SHARKS, IN PARTICULAR,
ARE BIG EARNERS
FOR THE DIVING INDUSTRY.

Lopez speaks in a foreign language.

Text reads, in Costa Rica we have Cocos Island, which possibly has the most pristine and natural population of whitetips in the world. It’s like carpets of hundreds of sharks congregated each night to feed at the bottom. It’s basically a unique dive in Cocos Island.

The narrator says, DORMANT DURING THE DAY,
WHITETIP REEF SHARKS
BECOME ACTIVE
AND DETERMINED HUNTERS AT NIGHT.

A large number of small sharks swim over one another over corals.

The narrator says, MOVING OVER THE REEF
IN LOOSELY ORGANIZED PACKS,
THE SHARKS POKE
THEIR BLUNT HEADS
INTO EACH CRACK AND CREVICE
IN THE CORAL IN SEARCH OF PREY.

The sharks dig through the coral around them.

(Dramatic music plays)

The narrator says, DURING THESE FRANTIC HUNTS,
WHITETIP REEF SHARKS
BREAK OFF PIECES OF CORAL,
OFTEN TEARING THEIR SKIN
AND FINS.
IN COCOS ISLAND,
THIS FURIOUS SPECTACLE
HAS PLAYED OUT EVERY NIGHT
FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS.
BUT FOR HOW MUCH LONGER
REMAINS TO BE SEEN.
IT DOESN'T TAKE TOO LONG
TO BRING A MARINE ECOSYSTEM
TO THE BRINK OF COLLAPSE.
CATALINA ISLANDS,
A CHAIN OF VOLCANIC
UNDERSEA MOUNTAINS
32 KILOMETRES OFF THE NORTHWEST COAST
OF COSTA RICA,
IS A GRIM REMINDER
OF THE VULNERABILITY
OF UNDERWATER HABITATS.

Felipe Chacon walks along a beach. Waves crash against this bare feet.

He says, RIGHT NOW
WE'RE ON CATALINA ISLANDS
AND THEY'RE WELL KNOWN
FOR THEIR CLEANING STATIONS
FOR MANTA RAYS,
IT'S ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS
WHY PEOPLE COME HERE.
AND SUDDENLY
I'VE BEEN SEEING A DECLINE
ON THE AMOUNT OF FISH
THAT YOU SEE UNDERWATER,
IN THE MANTA RAY SIGHTINGS.

On a boat traveling through the water, Felipe wears a wetsuit.

The narrator says, FELIPE KNOWS THE AREA WELL.
HE STARTED HIS DIVING CAREER
HERE IN 2008.
AND SINCE THEN,
HE'S NOTICED A STEADY DROP
IN THE MASS OF ALL SPECIES
THAT INHABIT THESE DIVE SITES.

Felipe stands at the edge of the boat wearing scuba gear, fins and goggles. He jumps into the water.

The narrator says, THE WARM, NUTRIENT-RICH WATERS
THAT SURROUND THE ISLANDS
ARE TYPICALLY AN IDEAL HABITAT
FOR RAYS AND SHARKS.

Small fish swim over corals.

The narrator says, BUT TODAY
THERE ARE FEW TO BE SEEN.

Felipe swims behind a school of yellow fish.

The narrator says, IN THESE UNPROTECTED WATERS,
CATALINA'S SHARKS AND RAYS
ARE IN DECLINE:
DRIVEN AWAY BY TOO MANY DIVERS
AND DECIMATED BY OVERFISHING.

Fish swim over coral.

The narrator says, FOR A FIRST-TIME VISITOR,
THE DECLINE
MIGHT NOT BE NOTICEABLE.

(Cheery music plays)

The narrator says, THIS DIVE SPOT,
KNOWN AS DIRTY ROCK,
TEEMS WITH FISH:

Colourful fish swim together. Fish crowd the coral.

The narrator says, SPOTTAIL GRUNTS SWIM
IN TIGHTLY PACKED SCHOOLS.

A large school of fish swim close together

The narrator says, SPADEFISH DRIFT
WITH THE CURRENT.

Fish swim together.

The narrator says, A MALE SERGEANT MAJOR
VALIANTLY TRIES
TO PROTECT HIS NEST
FROM HUNGRY INTRUDERS.

A blue fish with yellow and black stripes swims at yellow fish that try and get close to him.

The narrator says, BUT HIS FERTILIZED EGGS,
A BRIGHT SHADE OF PURPLE,
CATCH THE EYE OF DOZENS OF
BARBERFISH AND KING ANGELFISH.

Fish crowd the blue fish’s nest tucked in some coral.

The narrator says, THE SERGEANT MAJOR
IS OUTNUMBERED.

(Dramatic music plays)

The narrator says, BUT NOT TO BE INTIMIDATED,
THE SERGEANT MAJOR
RECLAIMS HIS SPACE.

The yellow fish back up.

The narrator says, LIFE ON THESE ROCKY OUTCROPS
IS A SERIES OF BATTLES.

Ray slide through the ocean.

The narrator says, HIGHER UP THE WATER COLUMN,
SPOTTED EAGLE RAYS
SOAR OVER THE SEASCAPE.

Above water, a ray leaps out of the ocean.

The narrator says, A MOBULA RAY BREAKS THE SURFACE.

The ray continues to leap in and out of the ocean. Underwater, a school of fish swim close together.

The narrator says, IT MAY BE HARD TO BELIEVE
BUT THIS DIVE SPOT
IS A MERE SHADOW
OF WHAT IT WAS 30 YEARS AGO.

Colourful fish crowd around coral.

Felipe says, THE BEGINNING
OF MY DIVING HISTORY
IS ON THE AREA
OF CATALINA ISLAND,
AND WHEN I STARTED DIVING THERE,
EVERYTHING I WOULD SEE
WAS A COMPLETE SURPRISE.

Felipe scuba dives beside corals.

He says, YOU CAN SAY THAT RIGHT NOW
YOU'RE SEEING LESS AND LESS
AND LESS IN CATALINA ISLAND.
IT'S AN AREA
THAT HAS NO PROTECTION,
AND NO MANAGEMENT WHATSOEVER.
AND YOU CAN SEE
THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS
UNDER THE WATER.

(Dramatic music plays)

The narrator says, ALMOST 500 KILOMETRES SOUTH OF CATALINA
IS CAÑO ISLAND,
A SHINING EXAMPLE OF MARINE
CONSERVATION IN COSTA RICA.

Felipe says, THE MOMENT THAT YOU ARRIVE
TO THIS UH, ISLAND
IS VERY IMPRESSIVE.
I FELT LIKE I WAS ARRIVING
TO A PLACE
THAT SOMEONE JUST CUT A SQUARE
OUT OF THE AMAZONIAN RAINFOREST
AND PUT IT
IN THE CENTRE OF THE OCEAN.
IT'S LIKE WOW!
AND BECAUSE IT IS A RESERVE,
IT HASN'T BEEN AFFECTED
BY THE HAND OF MEN.

An island is covered by a forest.

(Calm music plays)

The narrator says, ACCESSIBLE ONLY
BY A 1-HOUR BOAT RIDE
FROM THE COAST,
THE ISLAND WAS DESIGNATED
A BIOLOGICAL RESERVE IN 1978.

Water crashes against the islands shores.

The narrator says, CAÑO AND ITS WATERS
ARE CAREFULLY PROTECTED.
THIS IS A NO-TAKE ZONE,
MEANING FISHING
IS STRICTLY BANNED.

Underwater, a large school of fish swim close together. Two scuba divers swim between walls of coral

The narrator says, SCUBA DIVING IS ALSO REGULATED.
JUST 10 DIVERS ARE ALLOWED AT
A DIVE SPOT AT ANY GIVEN TIME.

The divers swim by a school of fish.

The narrator says, THE ULTIMATE SIGN OF SUCCESS
OF THESE CONSERVATION MEASURES
IS AN EXPLOSION OF LIFE.

Different schools of fish explore through the water.

The narrator says, TODAY, CAÑO ISLAND BURSTS WITH
MORE THAN 200 SPECIES OF FISH.

The waters of the island are full of fish.

The narrator says, NEARLY ONE-FIFTH OF ALL FISH
IN THIS REGION
OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN
CAN BE FOUND HERE.

A shark rests on the bottom of the ocean under coral. A turtle swims upwards.

The narrator says, THIS UNDERWATER AMAZON
HOSTS AWE-INSPIRING CREATURES,
LIKE THE SEA SALP.

Three clear, barrel shaped fish swim together.

The narrator says, THEY MAY LOOK LIKE JELLY FISH
BUT SALP HAVE INTERNAL ORGANS
AND STRUCTURES
THAT JELLIES DON'T HAVE,
SUCH AS A HEART
AND A DORSAL NERVOUS SYSTEM.
IN THIS WAY, THEY'RE MORE
CLOSELY RELATED TO HUMANS
AND MAY REPRESENT
THE EARLIEST ANCESTORS
OF ALL ANIMALS WITH A BACKBONE.

The salps move through the water together.

The narrator says, EACH SALP MOVES
BY CONTRACTING AND PUMPING WATER
THROUGH ITS GLASSY BODY.
AS THE WATER COMES IN,
THE SALP'S
INTERNAL FEEDING FILTERS
COLLECT THE PHYTOPLANKTON
ON WHICH IT FEEDS.
IT IS A MARVELLOUSLY
EFFICIENT SYSTEM:
LOCOMOTION AND MEAL TIME
ARE COMBINED IN ONE FELL SWOOP.
SALPS AND THEIR ANCESTORS
HAVE FLOATED ON THE CURRENTS
FOR HUNDREDS
OF MILLIONS OF YEARS.

A small shark swims over the floor of the ocean.

The narrator says, BUT THEY AREN'T
THE ONLY ANCIENT CREATURES
IN THE WATERS OFF CAÑO ISLAND.
FOSSIL EVIDENCE
OF WHITETIP REEF SHARKS
DATES BACK
MORE THAN 40 MILLION YEARS.
THEY'VE HAD ENOUGH TIME TO
DEVELOP SOME PREDICTABLE HABITS.

A shark rests on the bottom of the ocean under coral.

The narrator says, DURING THE DAY,
THEY REST INSIDE THE CREVICES
AND NOOKS OF THE CORAL REEF
OR SLEEP OUT IN THE OPEN
ON THE SANDY BOTTOM.

A shark lies on the bottom of the ocean .

The narrator says, WHEN THEY FIND
A GOOD RESTING SPOT,
THEY'LL OFTEN RETURN TO IT
EVERY DAY FOR SEVERAL YEARS.
REST BREAKS PROVIDE THE PERFECT
CHANCE FOR A CLEANING.

The shark resting under the coral opens and clothes its mouth.

The narrator says, THE SHARK OPENS ITS MOUTH
AND FLARES ITS GILLS,
AN INVITATION FOR GOBY FISH
TO RID IT OF PARASITES,
OLD FOOD PARTICLES
AND DEAD SKIN.

The sharks gills flares as it opens and clothes its mouth.

The narrator says, THE VOLCANIC ROCKS
THAT BUILT CAÑO ISLAND
OFFER PROTECTION,
NOT JUST
TO THE WHITETIP REEF SHARK
BUT TO THE CORALS
THAT MAKE UP THE REEF.

A shark swims up alongside a wall of coral. Small fish swim over a large coral.

The narrator says, SMALL FISH SPEND
THEIR ENTIRE LIVES ON THE REEF
HIDING FROM PREDATORS
AMONG THE CORALS.

Fish swim up above coral to join a school.

The narrator says, EACH CREATURE IS PART
OF CAÑO ISLAND'S
LONG AND COMPLEX FOOD CHAIN.

A diver swims near a boat.

The narrator says, REEF MANTA RAYS COME HERE
TO BE CLEANED
BY GREAT SWARMS OF SNAPPERS
AND BUTTERFLY FISH.

The diver pulls a square frame into the water. A diver jumps into the water from a boat.

The narrator says, THE PRISTINE DIVE SPOTS
OF CAÑO ISLAND
ARE ALSO KNOWN FOR A SIGHT
EVEN MORE IMPRESSIVE
THAN THE GIANT MANTA RAY.

(Cheery music plays)

The narrator says, MASSIVE SCHOOLS OF FISH
SWIMMING TOGETHER
IN ONE GIANT, SWIRLING MASS.

A school of fish swim close together.

Felipe says, HAVING THE OPPORTUNITY
TO DIVE CAÑO,
I WAS NOT EXPECTING
TO SEE A LOT
BUT IT WAS LIKE
AN UNDERWATER AQUARIUM
THAT HAS NO LIMITS, NO WALLS.
CRYSTAL-CLEAR VISIBILITY,
WARM WATER,
AND BEYOND THAT,
THE SCHOOLS OF GRUNTS,
THE SCHOOLS OF SNAPPERS
WOULD CLOUD THE SKY
WHEN YOU ARE DIVING
AND IT'S LIKE WOW.
AND YOU CAN SWIM THROUGH THEM,
THROUGH THE FISHBOWL,
BE FACE TO FACE WITH HUNDREDS,
IF NOT THOUSANDS, OF FISH.

A large number of fish swim close together.

The narrator says, THE FISH SCHOOL OPERATES
AS A SINGLE UNIT.
THIS EXTRAORDINARY COORDINATION
RELIES ON SIGNALS
PASSED THROUGH THE SCHOOL
FROM ONE FISH TO THE NEXT.

Different schools of fish swim together.

The narrator says, THESE SIGNALS DIRECT TRAFFIC,
INDICATE THE PRESENCE OF FOOD
AND SOUND THE ALARM
IN THE FACE OF PREDATORS.

Long fish swim together.

The narrator says, PREDATORS,
LIKE THIS SCHOOL OF BARRACUDAS.

The long barracudas swim together.

The narrator says, THEY ARE AMONG
THE MOST DANGEROUS
AND UNPREDICTABLE FISH
IN THE SEA.
BARRACUDA HAVE POWERFUL JAWS
AND RAZOR-SHARP TEETH
EARNING THEM THE NICKNAME
THE TIGERS OF THE SEA.
THOUGH THESE TIGERS
CAN HUNT IN PACKS,
LUNGING QUICKLY AT PREY
WHICH IS FORCED INTO THEIR JAWS,
THEN SHREDDED AND DEVOURED.
FORK-TAILED FINS
HELP BARRACUDAS
HIT SPEEDS OF 40 KILOMETRES AN HOUR.

Schools of barracudas rest beside each other.

The narrator says, WHEN RESTING,
THEY FLOAT ALMOST MOTIONLESS,
YET ARE STILL ALERT
TO THE SLIGHTEST DANGER.

A school of barracudas float in the water.

The narrator says, YOUNGER BARRACUDAS TRAVEL
IN SCHOOLS
AS A MEANS OF PROTECTION
FROM PREDATORS.

A school of barracudas travels through the water.

The narrator says, SHARKS, DOLPHINS
AND OTHER BARRACUDAS
ARE AMONG THE ANIMALS
BRAVE ENOUGH TO TACKLE
THESE FEARSOME HUNTERS.

The barracudas travel together.

The narrator says, BEYOND THE MASSIVE SCHOOLS,
CAÑO ISLAND IS RICH
IN CORAL-BUILDING ORGANISMS.

Small fish swim over colourful coral. Blue fish swim over other coral.

The narrator says, FIVE CORAL PLATFORMS
SURROUND THE ISLAND.
EACH SUPPORTS
MORE THAN A DOZEN SPECIES:
SUCH AS BRAIN CORAL.

Pink coral resembles a brain.

The narrator says, SEA FANS,
AND HEAD CORAL.
CAÑO ISLAND HAS THE LARGEST
VARIETY OF CORAL SPECIES
ON COSTA RICA'S PACIFIC COAST.

Fish swim over coral.

The narrator says, THE FISHING
AND DIVING REGULATIONS
IMPOSED IN THE MARINE PARK
HAVE HELPED THE CORALS
TO THRIVE.

A forest faces the ocean.

The narrator says, BUT THEY CAN'T PROTECT THE REEF
FROM AN EVEN
MORE DESTRUCTIVE THREAT:
RISING GLOBAL TEMPERATURES.

Under water, coral is white.

The narrator says, WHEN WATER IS TOO WARM,
CORALS EXPEL THE ALGAE
THAT LIVE IN ITS TISSUES
AND GIVE THE REEF
ITS VIBRANT COLOURS.
THE CORAL TURNS WHITE
IN A PROCESS
KNOWN AS CORAL BLEACHING.
WARMER WATER TRIGGERED
BY EL NIÑO IN 2015 AND 2016
DAMAGED THE REEFS HERE
TO A DEGREE
NOT SEEN SINCE THE 1980S.

A woman wearing a wetsuit stands on a boat. She has brown hair and holds fins.

The narrator says, MARINE BIOLOGISTS
CRISTINA SANCHEZ
AND DAVID PALACIOS
ARE IN CAÑO ISLAND
TO INSPECT THE HEALTH
OF THE CORAL
AFTER MONTHS OF WORRYINGLY
OF HIGH TEMPERATURES.

David Palacios stands on a swim platform on the stern of the boat. Christina Sanchez pulls on flippers. They both wear scuba gear. David jumps into the water. Christina follows.

(Dramatic music plays)

Underwater, one of the divers holds a square metal frame.

The narrator says, THE RESEARCHERS EXPLORE AN AREA
OFF LIMITS TO OTHER DIVERS.

The diver with the metal frame swims over coral.

The narrator says, THEY SUSPECT THAT LOWER CURRENTS
ON THIS SIDE OF THE ISLAND
MAY HAVE INCREASED
THE LIKELIHOOD
OF HIGHER WATER TEMPERATURES.

Underwater, coral has turned white.

The narrator says, IT APPEARS THAT CRISTINA
AND DAVID WERE RIGHT.
THE AMOUNT OF CORAL BLEACHING
IS ASTONISHING.

(Dramatic music plays)

The narrator says, THEY RUN TRANSECTS
AND USE A GRID
AT REGULAR INTERVALS
TO MEASURE HOW MUCH OF THE REEF
IS COVERED WITH LIVE STONY CORAL
AND HOW MUCH IS COVERED
BY SPONGES, ALGAE
AND OTHER ORGANISMS.

The grid lies on the damaged coral. One of the divers writes a note.

The narrator says, STONY CORALS ARE REEF BUILDERS.
A LOW PERCENTAGE OF HARD CORAL
IS A SIGN THAT THE REEF
IS UNDER STRESS.

One of the divers gets a closer look at a coral.

The narrator says, THEY ALSO TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS
TO DETERMINE
IF BLEACHING LEVELS HAVE CHANGED
SINCE THEIR LAST RESEARCH DIVE
FIVE MONTHS PRIOR.

Christina writes another note.

The narrator says, BEFORE THEY HEAD BACK
UP TO THE BOAT,
CRISTINA AND DAVID
SPOT ANOTHER POSSIBLE MENACE
TO THE REEF'S HEALTH:
A CROWN-OF-THORNS STARFISH.

A starfish covered in spikes.

The narrator says, ON A HEALTHY REEF,
THIS CORAL-EATING STARFISH
TENDS TO FEED
ON THE FASTEST-GROWING SPECIES
ALLOWING SLOWER-GROWING CORALS
TO FORM COLONIES.
ON A VULNERABLE REEF,
STARFISH CAN POSE A THREAT.

(Sad music plays)

The narrator says, A DENSE OUTBREAK
CAN STRIP A REEF OF 90 PERCENT
OF ITS LIVING CORAL TISSUE.

The starfish lies on colourful coral.

The narrator says, RESEARCHERS MONITOR
THE POPULATIONS
OF THESE VENOMOUS INVERTEBRATES
IN CASE OF AN OUTBREAK.
FORTUNATELY FOR THIS REEF,
STARFISH NUMBERS AT CAÑO ISLAND
ARE ON THE LOW END.
BUT THE RESULTS
OF THE BLEACHING TEST
ARE NOT AS ENCOURAGING.

In the water, Christina and David swim over bleached coral.

The narrator says, FIVE MONTHS AGO,
5% OF THE REEF AT CAÑO ISLAND
SUFFERED FROM BLEACHING.
NOW, AS MUCH AS 70 PERCENT
OF THE CORAL IS BLEACHED.

Very few fish swim around the bleached coral.

The narrator says, IT'S A DEVASTATING FIND.
THE LIKELY DEATH
OF SUCH A VAST AMOUNT OF CORAL
COULD AFFECT HABITATS
BEYOND CAÑO ISLAND.
CORAL REEFS ACT AS A BARRIER
AGAINST CURRENTS
AND POWERFUL WAVES.

A river runs from the ocean and through a forest.

The narrator says, WITHOUT THE REEF,
STRONG WAVES POUND THE COAST
AND DESTABILIZE
THE FINE SEDIMENT
THAT ALLOWS MANGROVES
TO TAKE ROOT.
NEARLY 100 PERCENT
OF COSTA RICA'S MANGROVES
ARE LOCATED
ON ITS VULNERABLE WEST COAST.

A person speaks in a foreign language.

Text reads, when we talk about marine ecosystems we have to keep in mind that everything is connected from those areas near the cost and close to rivers to the coral reefs and pelagic zones offshore.

The person speaking is a woman with brown hair wearing a grey shirt.

The narrator says, MANGROVES, LIKE ALL FORESTS,
STORE HIGH AMOUNTS OF CARBON
IN THEIR LEAVES AND ROOTS.
WHEN MANGROVES ARE DESTROYED,
THEY RELEASE THAT CARBON
INTO THE ATMOSPHERE,
THICKENING THE LAYER
OF GREENHOUSE GAS
AND MAKING THE EARTH WARMER.

(Sad music plays)

The narrator says, THE DESTRUCTION OF THE REEFS,
AND IN TURN THE MANGROVES,
WOULD AFFECT ALL ECOSYSTEMS,
BOTH ON LAND AND IN WATER.

Under water, corals are bleached.

The narrator says, RESEARCHERS WILL RETURN
TO THIS SPOT THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
TO MONITOR THE EXTENT
OF CORAL BLEACHING.

Very few fish swim by the damaged corals.

The narrator says, ONLY TIME AND THE RESILIENCE
OF THESE CORALS
WILL REVEAL THE TRUE EFFECTS
OF RISING TEMPERATURES.

(Calm music plays)

The narrator says, COSTA RICA IS A PLACE TO WITNESS
NATURE AT WORK.

A forest covers an island. Light blue water separates land.

The narrator says, FROM TROPICAL FJORDS.

Underwater, Sharks swim with other fish.

The narrator says, TO UNDERWATER HIGHWAYS.
AND SUBMERGED VOLCANOES,
THE PACIFIC COAST OF COSTA RICA
IS A SOURCE OF ENDLESS WONDER
AND DISCOVERY.

Schools of fish swim together.

Felipe Chacon says, DEFINITELY ONE OF THE THINGS
THAT I CAN SAY ABOUT DIVING
IN COSTA RICA
WHETHER YOU'RE IN CAÑO,
WHETHER YOU'RE IN CATALINA
OR IN COCOS ISLAND
IS THAT YOU GET A MOMENT OF AWE,
YOU STOP IN TIME
WHEN YOU'RE UNDER THE WATER
INTERACTING
WITH THESE CREATURES,
WHEN YOU'RE GETTING CLOSE
TO THEM FACE TO FACE
WHEN YOU'RE SURROUNDED
BY EITHER RAYS
OR SCHOOLS OF FISH
OR WHEN YOU'RE FACE TO FACE
WITH A SHARK,
THAT MOMENT YOU STOP
AND IT'S LIKE YOUR MIND GOES
INTO A BLANK STATE.

(Calm music plays)

Rays swim together.

The narrator says, WHILE THESE OCEANIC ISLANDS
SUPPORT ABUNDANT WILDLIFE,
COSTA RICA'S COASTAL HABITATS
PROVIDE CRITICAL NURSERIES
FOR APEX PREDATORS.

A boat travels through the ocean.

The narrator says, AFTER YEARS OF RECKLESS ABUSE,
THESE VITAL MARINE HABITATS
WERE ON THE ROAD TO COLLAPSE.

Lopez measures a shark.

The narrator says, BUT THE PASSIONATE WORK
OF MARINE RESEARCHERS
AND SHARK DEFENDERS
IS BRINGING NEW HOPE
FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR OCEANS.

Lopez releases a shark pup into the water. He speaks in a foreign language.

Text reads, we have to fight to keep this ocean. Thousands of tourists pay thousands of dollars to go to Cocas Island and see the adult hammerhead sharks. But what happens if we don’t protect the babies that are not in Cocos Island? We’re not letting the populations connect. We’re not letting them survive, so every day we have less sharks in our waters. Every day we have less equilibrium in our oceans.

Yellow fish swarm around a blue fish.

Felipe says, WE'RE GONNA TRY
TO KEEP THIS RESOURCE
FOR OUR FUTURE GENERATIONS
BECAUSE THIS DOES NOT BELONG
TO ME,
DOES NOT BELONG
TO THE FISHERMEN,
IT BELONGS TO EVERYBODY,
TO EVERY COSTA RICAN.
IT BELONGS TO EVERY FOREIGNER
THAT COMES HERE TO DO TOURISM
AND ESPECIALLY IT BELONGS
TO THE YOUNGER GENERATIONS
BECAUSE THEY HAVE THE SAME,
IF NOT MORE RIGHTS THAN ME,
TO HAVE THEIR OPPORTUNITY
AND SEE HOW BEAUTIFUL
THE UNDERWATER WORLD IS.

A shark swims beside coral. It swims upwards beside a wall of coral. Hammerhead sharks swim together with other fish.

Series producer Dan Hughes. Field director Isabel Salazar. Associate producer Rita Medynsky.

Narrator Ross Huguet.

Executive Producer Craig Colby. Produced by Blue Ant media.

Watch: Great Blue Wild - series 2 - Episode 8