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Isla del Coco National Park


It is situated on the Pacific Ocean, 532 km from Cabo Blanco in Costa Rica, southwest of the national territory, between the degrees of latitude N 5¡ 30" and 5¡ 34" and the meridians 0.687¡ 1" and 87¡ 6”. It was created by the executive decree no. 8748-A, on June 22, 1978, and comprises an area of 2.400 terrestrial hectares and 97.235 maritime hectares.
The island is considered a natural laboratory for studies of the evolution of the species. It is extremely rainy, about 7.000 mm annual precipitation, and it is covered with an evergreen forest, which features cloudy conditions on the IglesiasIsla Del Coco Hill, 634 m above sea level.

The topography is very uneven; that generates the formation of many cascades, some of which fall from a high altitude spectacularly into the ocean. The coast is very sinuous, comprises cliffs of up to 183 meters in height and an infinity of submarine caves. The turquoise-blueish ocean is of an extraordinary transparency.

The insular territory was discovered in 1526 by the pilot Joan Cabezas and already in 1556 it appeared in the map of Nicolás Desliens as the Isla del Coco (Spanish for: “Coconut Island”). During the centuries XVII and XVIII, it was a refuge for the pirates and corsairs that thrived alongside the Pacific coasts of Spanish America. According to legends, valuable treasures were hidden here, like the treasure of Lima, consisting in tons of gold and silver ingots, gold slices that cover cupolas of churches; the treasure of William Davies, which was hidden in 1684, and the one of Benito "Espada Sangrienta" (Spanish for: ¨bloody sword¨) Bonito in 1819.

An evergreen forest, thick and dense, covers rough insular territory of 2.400 hectares, frequently cloudy because of abundant and torrential rainfalls.

In this park, 235 different plant species (70 of them endemic), have been identified, 362 insect species (64 of them endemic) and 2 species of endemic reptiles: the lizard and the salamander; 3 spider species, 85 bird species, including the maritime ones (4 endemic ones), 57 species of crustacea, 118 species of maritime molluscs, more than 200 fish species and 18 coral species. In its waters, white-finned sharks are plentiful, as well as the giant hammerhead shark, the tuna, the parrot fish, the manta ray and the horse mackerel.

Among the island´s most distinctive tree species, the copey, the palo de hierro and the endemic palm tree are standing out. Among the birds the endemic ones are the most common species: the mosquero of the Isla del Coco, the cuclillo of the Isla del Coco and the fincho f the Isla del Coco. In the forests are common the espíritu santo, the white-colored bird that comes to the island to nest and which sets itself apart from others because it flies about the heads of the visitors.

The Isla del Coco is a territory of great scenic richness and a real laboratory for natural studies. There are plenty of ferns, bromelias, rivers, caninos and cascades, as well as valleys, cliffs and small islands, visited by an infinity of maritime birds and serving as nesting site for seagulls and bobo-birds.

The park features Isla del Cocovarious programs. The protection program cares for the compliance of the conservation laws for the natural resources, maintaining an adequate balance of the island´s ecosystems within the maritime and terrestrial limits.
Another function is to care for the security of the national and international visitors that come to this island.

The administration program sets the bases for the planning of all the park´s short- and long-term works.

The monitoring and investigation program sets the bases for the scientific investigative development in this area and should encourage it according to the park´s priorities.

Finally, the public usage program, whose target is to bring to mind the importance of protecting the populations of the most endangered maritime organisms (because of commercial usage) to the groups who dedicate themselves to fishing within the parks borders.
 

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