Cocos Island National Park, Costa Rica: An Underwater Serengetti

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Todd Steiner:  Cocos Island National Park, Costa Rica: An Underwater Serengetti

todd-Nonie Silver, - Copy

Jacques Cousteau called Cocos Island “the most beautiful in the world.”  Located about halfway between Costa Rica and Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, it is the only island in the eastern Pacific Ocean supporting tropical rainforest.

What I found underwater, though, was much more impressive.  “Megafauna” — large-bodied species — congregate around the island. Its relative isolation, ocean countercurrents, wind patterns, and underwater seamounts combine to create an ecosystem that supports one of the most amazing displays of marine life on the planet. The sheer abundance of large animals underwater found at one place was unfathomable for me before I visited Cocos.

I will share the beauty of Cocos through photography, what we are learning about the importance of CocosIsland for sea turtles and sharks, and what needs to be done to protect these species at Cocos and during their migrations to and from Cocos.  I will also describe our Cocos Island Citizen Scientist program that is involving divers in collecting data and assisting us on our research expeditions.


todd photo

Todd Steiner, M.S., Executive Director, Turtle Island Restoration Network 
Todd Steiner is the founder and executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN), overseeing its four primary initiatives –,, and He holds a masters degree in Biology and currently leads research on sea turtles and sharks at Cocos Island National Park, Costa Rica. Todd initially founded the Sea Turtle Restoration Project as part of Earth Island Institute in 1989. Prior to that, he worked as a wildlife biologist at Everglades National Park then was director of Earth Island’s Save the Dolphin project, which was responsible for bringing to public view the tuna industry’s impact on dolphins and other marine species and. He has more than 30 years experience protecting and restoring endangered species and habitats. Todd currently serves as a member of IUCN (World Conservation Union) Marine Turtle Specialist Group, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council, NOAA-DFG Priority Action Coho Team Technical Working Group, and the Lagunitas Creek Technical Advisory Committee.

L.R. Koftinow

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  • Lynette R. K.

    Excellent presentation by Todd Steiner with stunning photography. He inspired our attendees.

    1 · August 27

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