Andrés López, a marine biologist with a master’s in management resources degree from Costa Rica and is Co-Founder and Director of Misión Tiburón, a nonprofit organization aiming to promote the conservation of sharks and marine life. Since 2010, Misión Tiburón started different projects with sharks and rays with the support of coastal stakeholders, like fisherman, divers, rangers, in others.
Through their years of research and tagging studies, 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.
Mision Tiburon studies had identified sharks’ critical habitats and promoted national and international conservation measures, such as CITES and IUCN inclusions. Their work has been supported by different partners, for example New England Aquarium’s Marine Conservation Action Fund (MCAF), Conservation International, Rain Forest Trust, among others.
In Costa Rica, thanks to the government support and the involvement of the communities, they acted to improve the management of this critical 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.