Day 7 |
Oct 12, 2009

Isla De Coiba

By Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist

Co-ordinates: 07°35.597’N, 081°42.725’W

Weather: scattered clouds with periods of sunshine

Air Temperature: 29°C

Sea Temperature: 28°C

Wind: 5 – 10 knots

Today was another Marine Biologist’s dream day!

It was only 6:30 am when the ship anchored and our activities started by 7:00am. The Expedition Team split into two groups – one heading off to Isla de Coiba to prepare for a jungle walk activity, and the other to set up the water sports on a small outlying island called Granito de Oro (translated as “Little Grain of Gold”).

There were two options planned for the day. Firstly, guests could come and go all morning to Granito de Oro where they could swim, snorkel, and lie in the sun or sea kayak. This was going to be my location all day – heading up the snorkeling activities!

The second option was a guided walk up the well-known Monkey Trail at Isla de Coiba – a location just across from the operations at Granito de Oro. Hans Peter (the Botanist), JJ (the Ornithologist) and three local tour guides were leading these walks.

Most of the guests headed off on the walk first. Only a handful of guests came across to the beach. This little beach is really gorgeous – a half-moon white sand beach covers one side of the island and the entire island is surrounded by turquoise blue waters. As we arrived off the Zodiacs one of the first things to grab you attention were the thousands of small hermit crabs crawling on the beach. The sand was alive with the scurrying little animals. I had to giggle on occasion as I stood talking with guests and several of these little hermit crabs would crawl up and over and between my toes!

The best snorkeling was around a cluster of rocks off to one side of the island. Here, the fish life was fantastic. There were fish of every shape, colour and size that you could imagine! We even saw a white tip reef shark that was patrolling the area.

While the small group of us enjoyed the morning on the beach, the majority of guests were exploring the tropical rainforest on the Monkey Trail across the way. Unfortunately, the jungle was very quiet and they did not see any monkeys or birds – although they did hear a few birds.

After the walk, most of the guests came across to the island for a late morning swim and snorkel. I conducted a one hour snorkel tour with about 10 guests and we had such a fun time. We covered a huge distance and saw about 100 different types of fish. It was wonderful.

Even the Hotel Department got into the spirit of the day – setting up a portable bar on the beach with fruit juice, champagne, beer, mixed drinks and tropical fruit snacks. Probably the most hilarious site of the trip so far was that of the butlers, in full butler uniform from the waist up, but shorts on instead of long pants, wading into the ocean to serve the guests drinks! What a wonderful party atmosphere!

The ship sailed as we were eating a hearty lunch in the Restaurant and enjoying the scenery. Later in the afternoon, I gave a lecture on mollusks, including snails, clams and the cephalopods (octopus, squid & cuttlefish). I had a good giggle with the guests in the Theatre as I told some of my tales of working with octopus in the New England Aquarium, and the antics that they get into.

Later in the evening, at 7:00 pm, Daniil Elterman (Assistant Expedition Leader) welcomed the Venetian Club members during the Cocktail Party, and then we all made our way down to dinner for another fabulous meal.