Cocos Island National Park, World Heritage Site (Costa Rica)

Cocos Island National Park, World Heritage Site (Costa Rica)

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 12:14
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Cocos Island lies off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and is the only island in the tropical eastern Pacific with a tropical rain forest. Surrounded by deep waters with counter-currents, Cocos Island National Park is admired by scuba divers for its populations of large marine species.

Cocos Island National Park is located in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, covering an area of 202,100 ha (499,400 acres) some 530 km (330 mi) off the Costa Rica mainland. The island itself, "Isla del Coco," also known as "Treasure Island," is the only landmark of the vast submarine Cocos Range.

With a surface area of 2,400 ha (5,930 acres) it supports the only humid tropical forest on an oceanic island in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. The remaining 199,700 ha (493,470 acres) protect not only diverse marine ecosystems, mostly pelagic but also, the most diverse coral reefs of the entire Eastern Tropical Pacific.

Thanks to its remote location and conservation efforts, this biologically highly diverse World Heritage site constitutes one of the best conserved marine tropical waters, well-known as a world-class diving destination. The property belongs to the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor, a marine conservation network, which also includes World Heritage properties in Colombia, Ecuador and Panama.


Natural population densities of large top predators indicate a near pristine conservation status of a property that is among the most important sites in the Eastern Tropical Pacific for the protection of large pelagic migratory species, such as the endangered Scalloped Hammerhead Shark and the near-threatened Silky Shark and Galapagos Shark.

Due to its geographical position, the oceanic island of volcanic origin is the first landmark met by the North Equatorial Counter Current and a point of confluence of other marine currents. This makes it a dispersing center of larvae of marine species from various parts of the Pacific Ocean.

In its land portion, the property hosts a remarkable degree of endemism across most diverse taxonomic groups. There are, for instance, three endemic bird species, two endemic freshwater fish and two endemic reptile species.

Cocos Island National Park is of irreplaceable global conservation value, reminding us what parts of tropical oceans historically looked like.