Andrés López, a marine biologist from Costa Rica, is Co-Founder and Director of Misión Tiburón, a nonprofit organization aiming to promote the conservation of sharks and marine life. In 2011, Misión Tiburón started to study the population of the scalloped hammerhead shark in Golfo Dulce, located in the South Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The scalloped hammerhead shark is an endangered species threatened by overfishing, bycatch, and the shark fin trade.
Through their years of research and tagging studies, Andrés and his partner, Ilena Zanella, have identified the sharks’ critical nursery habitats and helped to enact national and international conservation measures, including CITES listings to better protect these animals, work that was supported in part by the New England Aquarium’s Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF). López and Zanella have also engaged fishermen, communities, government officials, and schoolchildren in their conservation efforts, growing a vital and broad base of support for the sharks. Since 2010, Mision Tiburon has involved more than 5000 students in educational activities, has trained in shark biology and identification more than 200 governmental personnel from Ministry of Environment, Coastguards and National Fishing Institute
Thanks to government support and the involvement of the communities, they acted to improve the management of this endangered species. In May 2018, the Costa Rican government declared the Wetlands of Golfo Dulce as the Scalloped Hammerhead Shark Sanctuary, the first shark sanctuary of Costa Rica.
At the beginning of the 2019 year, Golfo Dulce was declared Hope Spot by the international organization Mission Blue, in support of nursery for endangered scalloped hammerhead shark. Andres is the Hope Spot Champion for this nomination.
Sharks, Mobulids, Conservation Leadership, Social Media, Public Speaking, Conservation in Developing Countries, Advocacy, Education
Ilena Zanella, Andrés López-Garro, et al. 2016. First record of young-of-the-year Scalloped hammerhead shark, Sphyrna lewini (Carcharhiniformes: Sphyrnidae) from Isla del Coco National Park, Costa Rica. Vol. 64, Supplement 1 (2016): Scientific research at Isla del Coco National Park and adjacent waters, Pacific Costa Rica. DOI: 10.15517/rbt.v64i1.23448
2017 Rainforest Trust Grant
2014 Conservation International
2010 Conservation International