In order to understand the vertical distribution of planktonic organisms in the oceans, it is important to consider a number of factors. Including oceanic circulation patterns, the vertical structure of the water column and the vertical position of the thermocline. This study examines the hydrography of Golfo Dulce, a tropical fjord -like embayment in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, and the influence of the 1997-1998 ENSO on the system. Five sampling stations were selected and visited once a month for two years in order to obtain vertical profiles of temperature (ºC), salinity (‰) and dissolved oxygen (mg O2/l). Results show a strong vertical stratification of the water column associated to the morphology of Golfo Dulce’s basin and to the effects of ENSO. Moreover, the existence of significant differences between the hydrographic characteristics of the inner and outer parts of the basin was detected. Finally, biannual events in the influx of cold, high salinity, and oxygen rich oceanic water masses into the basin were detected. These events might be related to the same forces driving the coastal upwelling system in the Gulf of Panama.
Keywords: Golfo Dulce, anoxic basin, water masses, upwelling, El Niño, Eastern Tropical Pacific, Costa Rica