Protecting highly migratory species by creating one of the world’s largest protected ocean zones: the Cocos-Galapagos Swimway.

Why It Matters

The Cocos-Galapagos Swimway is an area of ocean rich in biodiversity, measuring approximately 120,000 square kilometers (nearly 75,000 miles) that follows the Cocos Ridge – an underwater mountain range that links the Galapagos and Cocos Marine Reserves.

Recent studies have demonstrated that at least five endangered marine species – whale sharks, leatherback sea turtles, green sea turtles, silky sharks, scalloped hammerhead sharks – use this swimway to migrate between the marine reserves.

When these species leave the protected areas, however, they enter open ocean where they are at  grave risk to industrial fishing.

Highly migratory species have complicated life-histories and require more protection than they receive from simply protecting them at a single place in one country. In addition to protecting endangered species as they migrate, creating the Cocos-Galapagos Swimway would:

  • Reduce illegal fishing activities
  • Conserve fish stocks
  • Improve international cooperation
  • Capture and store twelve billion dollars worth of carbon

What We’re Doing

Turtle Island Restoration Network is part of MigraMar, a network of groups that conduct scientific research needed to better understand and safeguard marine migratory species in the Eastern Pacific.

We conduct research in Cocos Island National Park, and have placed tags with both acoustic and satellite equipment on over one thousand individuals from different migratory in the Eastern Pacific region.

Together, MigraMar is proposing a bilateral initiative to protect the Cocos-Galapagos Ridge Swimways between Ecuador and Costa Rica. It will be the first known bilateral marine protected area (MPA), connecting the national parks of two sovereign nations and protecting highly migratory species.

The science generated by the Migramar network feeds directly into the management of each of the UNESCO marine World Heritage sites, through collaboration with the respective National Park Services, some whose own staff researchers are members of the network. Through regular communication among the Migramar network, local MPAs are able to access regional points of view regarding the status and management requirements of the Eastern Tropical Pacific’s threatened migratory species.

How You Can Help Us

You can directly help us create the Cocos-Galapagos Swimway by:

  • Joining Turtle Island Restoration Network on an upcoming Cocos Island Dive Expedition;
  • Spreading awareness by sharing our articles and videos about the swimway;
  • Making a donation in support of our research; and
  • Writing to your elected officials in Costa Rica and Ecuador in support of the swimway.