Marine Mammals of Costa Rica

Universidad Veritas

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Marine Mammals of Costa Rica

  • Host University

    Universidad Veritas

  • Location

    San José, Costa Rica

  • Area of Study

    Biology, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Environmental Sustainability, Marine Biology, Wildlife Biology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course Title: Marine Mammals of Costa Rica: Biology for Conservation

    Course code: ENV- 3200

    Total contact hours & credits: 60 hours 4 credits

    Pre-requisites: None

    Course Description

    This course is an introduction to the biology of marine mammals of Costa Rica, including whales, dolphins, manatees, fur seals and sea lions. Topics covered include the evolution, physiology, behavior, and ecology of marine mammals. Particular attention is paid to current topics in the management and conservation of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) in Costa Rica within marine protected areas or with local coastal communities. Fieldwork will focus on basic ecological monitoring techniques and primary care on marine mammals’ stranding.

    ¿How to apply the elements of the biology and ecology of marine mammals for the valuation of their uses in different sectors and the promotion of their conservation?

    In order to respond the query, we will study the following generative topics:

    ● Diversity and morphology of marine mammals

    ● Adaptations to the aquatic environment

    ● Marine conservation and marine mammals

    ● Adaptations of mammals to the aquatic environment

    ● Marine Mammal Stranding’s & Response

    ● Benefits and threats of marine mammals

    The course will promote the following skills:

    ● Ability to identify the main biological and ecological characteristics of marine mammals.

    ● Ability to compare species of marine mammals

    ● Ability to determine the main challenges of marine conservation and sustainable tourism related to marine mammals.

    Some of the values and attitudes fostered among students are the following:

    ● Teamwork and leadership

    ● Interest in marine conservation

    ● Interest in tourism sustainability

    Competencies, criteria and evidences

    The competences for Veritas University are reflexive and integral actions that respond to the professional profile and context problems with suitability and ethical commitment, integrating know how to do, know how to be and know how to feel in a perspective of improvement. Both the disciplinary and general competences are presented, linked to their criteria and performance evidences for this course.


    Topic 1. Marine conservation and marine mammals a) Understanding ocean benefits b) Threats to oceans and coasts c) Ocean benefits from diversity of marine mammals d) Effects of threats to diversity of marine mammals

    Topic 2. Diversity of Marine Mammals a) Diversity and morphology b) Evolution c) Taxonomy of Marine Mammals: Odontocetes, Mysticetes, Pinnipeds, Serenians

    Topic 3. Adaptations to the aquatic environment d) Locomotion a) Thermoregulation b) Anatomical features c) Diving d) Physiology

    Topic 4. Cetaceans a) Generalities b) Evolution c) Classification of species: Odontocetes and Misticetes d) Adaptations to the aquatic environment e) Food structures and diet f) Biology of populations

    Topic 5. Acoustics a) Introduction to acoustics b) Communication and cognitive ability c) Effects of underwater noise

    Topic 6. Marine Mammal Strandings & Response a) Immediate care & Moving b) Reorientation & Release c) Monitoring

    Topic 7. Cetaceans in Costa Rica a) Diversity and distribution of cetaceans of Costa Rica b) Identification of local species c) Social and economic importance of cetacean a) Cetacean Observatory Regulation: an educational and management tool a) Cetacean observation tourism


    This is an introductory course on the topic of marine mammals in Costa Rica. The objective of the course is that students can differentiates the biological and ecological characteristics of marine mammals from their threats and ecological impacts of their use. The activities are designed through lectures and independent research students can identify the main characteristics of marine mammals. Under the analysis of a single species present in the country, a fact sheet will be developed that will address the issues of threats and their uses. Finally a case study will be developed and allow the impact of the main uses to marine mammals and thus link the acquired knowledge to achieve promote their conservation and responsible use.

    Learning Strategies. The course will complete the following learning strategies:

    ● Marine mammal’s visual identification assessment. The visual assessment of the identification of biological characteristics of marine mammals aims for students to apply their theoretical taxonomic knowledge in the identification of the species in the field immediately. The identifications will be made individually in the field or in classroom.

    ● Species fact sheet: This is a product that will be developed individually. It will allow the student to analyze and interpret the theoretical aspects relevant to each species and must synthesize the information received in the course and located in literature.

    ● Case study: Sustainable tourism of marine mammal sightings in coastal areas of Costa Rica promotes three basic aspects: knowledge management, reflective practice and adaptation to changes. With knowledge management, students are expected to acquire the strategies and techniques that allow them to learn by themselves; this implies awareness of the assimilation, reflection and internalization of knowledge so that, finally, you can assess and deepen from a personal option. The case study will be done as a group.

    ● Role playing: Simulation in stranding will be in teams, the aim is to apply their theoretical knowledge about marine mammal care in a practical and immediate way.

    Didactic resources

    For the proper development of the course and thus ensure learning, we have a library of updated bibliographic recommendations, multimedia equipment for individual exhibitions, furniture and acrylic slates for weekly sessions and readings provided by the teacher that can be a complement to the proposed project activities, as well as the different didactic techniques mentioned that give students a greater possibility of appropriating knowledge. Most of the lessons will be done in the classroom.

    The student may make use during the hours of independent work of the library of the institution, of the study rooms or of the computer labs, as well as of any other area that he / she decides on the campus of the University, since it is counted with wireless Internet and free to use for all students, teachers and administrators.


    This course is structured for International Students attending the Study Abroad program at Universidad Veritas. However, courses are not exclusive to foreigners so a few native students could enroll in this course. Assessment of learning outcomes Competency assessment is the process by which evidence is collected and a judgment or opinion is made, taking into account pre-established criteria to give feedback in order to improve the suitability of the course or program. The evaluation of the course must be coherent with the competences and the teaching methodology. For each item of evaluation there is a rubric, which, although it gives a score, is a quantitative and qualitative description of the student's performance. The rubrics include the performance criteria of the general and disciplinary competences.


    Case study 40%

    Marine mammal’s visual identification assessment 20%

    Species fact sheet 20%

    Role playing 20%

    Total of points 100%

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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