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Shark Island: Cocos Island National Park. ©NHK 1970
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Shark Island: Cocos Island National Park

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Summary/Historical Context

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Marine life

(Narration Text)
Cocos Island is 550 kilometers off the coast of Costa Rica in the Pacific Ocean. It is just 20 kilometers in circumference. The island's waters are known for their sharks. White tip reef sharks come into action at night. Dormant during the day, they hunt for prey after nightfall. Sharks have unique eyes enabling them to see in the dark.

Located in the middle of the ocean, sea water full of nutrition flows onto the island's shores. It washes up onto the reef, providing an ideal breeding ground for plankton. Countless small fish live and feed here which in turn attract the sharks. This submarine-like silhouette is a whale shark. It is the largest species of shark in the world reaching up to 18 meters in length. Although giant in size they feed on plankton and are gentle creatures. Here a large group of Hammerhead sharks slowly swims along, 30 meters below the surface. Their heads are shaped like a hammer and their eyes attached at each extremity. The shark is thought to have evolved this shape to increase its field of vision for hunting.

A flock of gannets is gathering over the water's surface. There is a large school of mackerel in the depths below. The fish are grouped near the surface as the sharks close in. Yellow-fin tuna join the sharks and begin eating the mackerel. A small group of mackerel begins to follow and swarm around a single shark. The mackerel are now protected from the Yellow-fin tuna by the shark. Caught in a predicament, the mackerel have protected themselves by entering closer to enemy territory. So much about sharks still remains a mystery. The drama that unfolds here around the solitary island of Cocos provide one of the keys in revealing their secrets.

on this subject: Friends of Cocos Island Foundation/ Fundación de Amigos de la Isal del Coco

Place/Country: Costa Rica
Series: NHK World Heritage 100
Type: Documentary
Credits: NHK, producer. UNESCO WHC, co-producer ; UNESCO TV, co-producer.

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