Day 11 |
Sep 11, 2008

Coiba Island, Panama

By JJ Apestegui, General Naturalist

Noon Position: 07° 38’.0 N, 081° 43.4’ W.

Weather: Hot day, calm seas with clear skies.

This morning started in a comfortable way with morning landfall at a small islet just off Coiba Island National Park in Panama. The place is called ‘Granito de Oro’ translated as the ‘Little Grain of Gold’.

It looks just like what one imagines when one thinks of the ideal deserted island: small, with a few trees and palms, white sandy beaches, and surrounded by blue-green tropical waters. Our main activities for the morning were snorkeling and kayaking. This islet lends itself very well to our aims, since it has very little currents around it, clear waters and rocky bottoms with coral and many colorful fishes. The visibility conditions were exceptional and, being that until now we had only stopped for snorkeling in the Caribbean, and we are now on the Pacific Ocean, the snorkelers saw many new species of tropical fish. This included also marine turtles and some White-tipped Reef sharks, a normally harmless reef species, and a sign of a marine environment in a good shape since the sharks of the world are in big trouble all around, but not here in Coiba where they are protected in the waters around the national park.

In the afternoon, the ship repositioned to the island of Coiba proper, right in front of the park ranger’s station. We started going ashore around 2pm for another session of beach and sun, but there were other things in store. First, one of the local Panamanian guides found a crocodile sunning on a mudflat on the other side of the small peninsula where the station is situated, and we all went over to see it. It was a short walk of no more than 50 meters from the landing, but totally separate from the beach where we were.

The area was excellent for wildlife; Brent counted over two dozen species of birds, and there were two types of iguanas, all within easy sight, and later a group went on a nature walk along the camp grounds and a nearby crest. Throughout the afternoon the sun kept shinning, until just about the time for leaving, when ominous black clouds showed up, a sign of the impending rain showers that are common during this time of the year.

This evening during recap, Claudia spoke a bit about the names of different marine organisms, and of the kind found in Coral Reefs. I did a short piece on the Pufferfish and the Japanese preference for eating this special, and deadly, delicacy – all in a light-hearted way. Christian continued with his next installment of the ‘International Enquirer’, which gave us all a laugh. The recap ended with a briefing by Suzana on the activities planned for tomorrow in Costa Rica, and all this was followed by another excellent meal.

For those guests who still had the energy to attend after such an eventful day, the last note of the evening was a hilarious presentation of our version of the famous ‘Liar’s Club’ game.