Cocos Island National Park covers primarily a marine ecosystem, globally significant for sharks.
The park consists of Cocos Island and its surrounding marine zone. It is located in the Pacific Ocean 550km off the coast of Costa Rica. It is the point of land nearest to the Galapagos Islands, which lie 630km to the south-west.
The marine area is considered a safe haven because commercial fishing is not allowed. 300 species of fish are found, including large species such as sharks, rays, tuna and dolphins. This also makes it one of the best scuba diving spots in the world.
Cocos Island is uninhabited except for park rangers. It differs from neighbouring islands because it is not dry and barren, but covered with a humid tropical forest. It is also mountainous and there are many waterfalls. Although its ecosystem has been severely damaged by introduced species like pigs and rats, it still contains many endemic species (for example three species of endemic land birds).
Map of Cocos Island
- ●● Natural
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Full name: Cocos Island National Park
Unesco ID: 820
- Costa Rica
Criteria: 9 10
- 2002 - Extended Extension of marine zone
- 1997 - Inscribed
- 1986 - Rejected Does not meet criteria
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- Turtles and tortoises: Habitat of Hawksbill turtle, Green turtle and Olive Ridley turtle
- Coral: "The rich coral reef, volcanic tunnels, caves, massifs and deeper waters surrounding Cocos Island are home to more than 30 species of coral" (wiki)
- Critically endangered fauna species: Hawksbill turtle - declining
- Endemic Bird Species: Cocos Island EBA: Cocos Cuckoo (Coccyzus ferrugineus), Cocos Flycatcher (Nesotriccus ridgwayi), Cocos Finch (Pinaroloxias inornata)
- Pacific Ocean
- Uninhabited islands: Only park rangers
- Marine sites: 977 sq kms M, 24 sq kms T
- Formerly inhabited islands: August Gissler a German adventurer and treasure hunter was made "Governor" of Cocos Island by the Costa Rican government in 1897. Backed by Financiers who set up the "Cocos Plantation Company" he established a colony there together with "several settler families who also grew tobacco" (Wiki). Unsuccessful he eventually left the island in 1908.
- Jacques-Yves Cousteau: "oceanographer Jacques Cousteau visited the island several times and in 1994 called it "the most beautiful island in the world"" (wiki)
- Pliocene: An Argon-Potassium radiometric determination established the age of the oldest rocks between 1.91 and 2.44 million years (Late Pliocene). Wiki
- Built or owned by Germans: August Gissler was allowed by the Costa Rican government to establish a colony there in 1897.