SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica, March 4, 2011 (ENS) - Costa Rica has greatly expanded a marine protected area surrounding Cocos Island National Park, safeguarding a total of 2,900 nautical square miles (one million hectares) still rich with endangered sharks and sea turtles. The Seamounts Marine Management Area, or Area Marina de Manejo Montes Submarinos, will conserve an entire marine ecosystem and protect a group of underwater mountains southwest of Cocos Island.
President Laura Chinchilla Miranda formalized the protected area in an Executive Decree on Thursday, saying, "This is an historical responsibility with which we aim to establish clear parameters to defend one of the greatest zones of marine wealth in the world: Cocos Island."
Located 342 miles (550 kilometers) off the coast of Costa Rica in the Pacific Ocean, about 30 hours from the mainland by boat, Cocos Island is just 12 miles (20 km) in circumference. It is known for the abundance of sharks that live in its waters, including white tipped reef sharks, enormous whale sharks, and scalloped hammerhead sharks.
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