Oceanographic variables at 33 stations distributed in Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica, during the dry and rainy seasons between 2009 and 2010, were analyzed with CTD profiles, where salinity, temperature, sigma-T and currents were studied in the water column. Secchi depth and chlorophyll_a were measured in surface. The main objective was to estimate the catchment area and estuarine plume dispersion formed with river discharge. Between the rivers Esquinas and Coto Colorado, decreased salinity (<30) in an area of approximately 250km2, creating thermohaline fronts along most of the gulf. The El Niño South Oscillation, which was in the phase of heightened was documented. The chlorophyll concentrations correlated 33.7% with Secchi disc water transparency. The Golfo Dulce surface water was identified with salinity <31.5 and temperature >27°C (April to December). This research contributes to the knowledge of the oceanography of the Golfo Dulce and the feedback we receive from fluvial origin, claiming form providing inputs for the potential creation of a major new marine protected area system covering entire Golfo Dulce area and, ideally, the surrounding river systems that feed it.

Keywords: Physical oceanography, river discharge, chlorophyll-a, El Niño South Oscillation.