Diving and Snorkeling in Uvita and Ojochal, Costa Rica: A Guide to Marine Conservation in Costa Rica's Southern Pacific Zone

On January 29, 2022, the official inauguration of Innoceana’s Center in Ojochal took place. Innoceana is a non-profit, non-governmental organization, whose main purpose is to protect, conserve and restore the oceans.
The CENTER offers an innovative model that seeks to raise awareness in the local and international community about  the comprehensive care of marine ecosystems, while creating an ideal space for research projects. 

During the inaugural event, national and foreign guests were able to explore the center’s facilities located in Ojochal de Osa. The 638m2 establishment has a classroom called “El aula del mar”, fully equipped to receive students (both children and adults) where they can learn about topics related to marine biology, conservation, climate change and scientific exploration programs. The organization also offers virtual reality workshops and interactive audiovisual adventures.

The building also houses a diving center where expeditioners can prepare to dive in the ocean and participate in research projects such as 3D coral restoration and mapping, specie monitoring, water quality studies and the disentanglement of marine animals stuck in plastic or ghost fishing lines.

Both expeditioners and volunteers can stay in the cabins adjacent to This lodge is perfectly equipped for  a comfortable and pleasant stay, up to sixteen persons.

Innoceana also plans to build a swimming pool on site, designed to teach people who want to get involved in marine conservation, how to dive. In addition, the organization plans to designate a space for laboratory studies, upcycling of microplastic found in oceans and beaches, growth of coral cuttings in controlled environments, among other scientific projects.

The inaugural event on January 29th was attended by around 80 guests who received a tour of the facilities and gathered to eat a vegetarian meal made with local products. The night was enlivened by musicians like Nebo and Lao & Catherine. The artist Carlos Hiller made a live painting, to the sound of the violins of the duet Omri & Tamra.

As part of this activity, a temporary art exhibition  captured by US-based marine conservationist and photographer Andy Mann was set up. Mann —who works with organizations such as National Geographic and SeaLegacy— donated his art pieces so they could be bought by whoever wanted them. The money raised will be used in various Innoceana projects , an organization that, being a non-profit, is largely sustained through donations and funds raised in marine conservation expeditions. In the future, this gallery will also serve as a means of disseminating the work of artists from the community, without the need for them to donate their creations (unless they wish to).

The event featured heartwarming speeches by the NGO leaders: Laura Vanopdenbosch —Project Director—(now Research Director), Carlos Mallo Molina —CEO—, Yulian Cordero —Operations Director—(now Community Director), and Karyna Duran —Development Director—. The renowned marine conservationist Randall Arauz, the photographer Andy Mann, the painter Carlos Hiller and Pipa from The Vegan Pirates —co-producer of “Entangled in Costa Rica“, an award-winning documentary created in collaboration with Innoceana— also shared a few words.

To close the evening, several videos were shown on the work that Innoceana has been carrying out in Costa Rica, Spain and the United States. The first audiovisual consisted of an interview with Lourdes Rojas, a Boruca artist who designed and created the mask that welcomes everyone at the center’s Reception. This artwork is of paramount importance as it symbolizes the organization’s respect for the native peoples of the area, ancestral guardians of these lands and their idiosyncrasies. The second video screened was “Entangled in Costa Rica”, a documentary that narrates the events experienced by the Innoceana team when rescuing a whale entangled with its calf in almost five kilometers of fishing nets.

In the long term, Innoceana dreams of replicating this institutional model in other parts of the country and even the world. The ocean’s  health is an effort that requires joint work with the population, nations, environmental entities and international organizations.

With this event, people’s warmth and the community’s involvement, Innoceana Ojochal’s doors were officially opened to welcome everyone willing to get involved in the protection, restoration and conservation of marine ecosystems, on which not only marine species depend on, but also all animals, plants, minerals and humans on the planet.

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