PhD candidate Celeste Sánchez Noguera from the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica and Dr. Sam Dupont from the University of Gothenburg met for the first time in Tasmania in May 2016 at the 4th Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World and the 3d Science meeting of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON). Ms Sánchez Noguera also participated in the training course on ocean acidification organized by the IAEA OA-ICC, the Centro de Investigación Científica y De Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE) and the University of Baja California (UABC) in Ensenada, Mexico, in September 2016. She then joined Dr. Dupont’s team in Kristineberg, Sweden, for one month in summer 2017 to work on an experiment aiming at evaluating ocean acidification tipping points on invertebrate larvae.
Since then, they have been exploring opportunities to develop ocean acidification work in Costa Rica. This was recently initiated through a SCOR visiting scholar grant allowing Dr. Dupont to visit Costa Rica for 2 weeks in November 2017 and with the support of CIMAR, the organization of a training on best practices in ocean acidification. They also built an experimental set-up allowing to manipulate the carbonate chemistry in a replicated aquarium system and they tested the impact on larval stages of invertebrates.
This was also an opportunity to evaluate strengths and challenges to develop monitoring and research in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is well known for its conservation efforts with important achievements in marine resources protection. For more than 35 years CIMAR has carried out ecological studies in marine ecosystems and provides an important baseline on the topic, including impact of ENSO on coral reefs. However, surges the need to include ocean acidification as a key factor, which led to start developing this new research line. Their early work sought to characterize local conditions through field measurements and they are eager to complement it with laboratory experiments. During Dr. Dupont’s visit six different projects were identified including a monitoring strategy to evaluate the variability of this unique coastal system along Central America and experiments that would allow to take advantage of the two coasts (Pacific and Caribbean) and the influence of an upwelling system (Papagayo) to test hypotheses on the relationship between natural variability, local adaptation and species sensitivity. Some of these projects will be implemented with the existing set-up but funding opportunities are explored to gather the missing equipment.