Great news for Panama’s marine areas

Sea Turtle Bocas del ToroAt the end of September, the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela ordered the establishment of two new Marine Reserves in the country, one in the Pacific Ocean (Cordillera de Coiba) and the other one in the Caribbean Sea (Banco Volcán).

These two new Marine areas cover 31.435 Km2, increasing the jurisdictional waters under protection and management in the country, from 3.7% to 13.5%.  Accomplishing the United Nations goal, of having under special protection at least 10% of its jurisdictional water (United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity).

Snorkeling PanamaMarine reserves are key ecosystem for the diversity of the marine life. Those areas are essential for the life cycle of many species, including migratory and commercially exploited species. For all of us, who have spent years working in conservation, it brings hope to possibly preserve endangered species.   One good example is what is happening at Bastimentos Marine National Park, where the protection of these unique habitats, coral reefs, sea grass beds, and sandy beaches, is helping to increase the number of nesting Sea Turtles, a symbol of Bocas del Toro.

Wildlife Panama
Map Source: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)

Another use for plastic bags

Widecast has worked with a group of women in Costa Rica and Panama to create a variety of handbags made entirely of recycled plastic bags. These women and their communities collect plastic bags off of beaches and any other place where they may be found. The plastic bags are cleaned and then made into a yarn to be crocheted into bags. Each bag is made by one woman in the community. Her name is attached to the bag as well as a brief description of the process to make the bags.

In 2007 (as an example year) alone:

This project collected and reused more than 50,000 plastic bags and worked with more than 220 pounds of collected bags each month. The project placed collection containers in 12 supermarkets in the Automercado chain in Costa Rica and organized groups of weavers in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, representing more than 100 women. The project made approximately $20,000 in sales, 80% of which went to the women weavers.


These bags are being created as a tool to raise awareness of the problem with plastic bags for sea turtles specifically and our planet overall. Each bag is a unique work of art. No two are the same. The striped bag on the wall behind Catta is an example of these bags. We have a small selection of them for sale at Tranquilo Bay.

Can local environments survive the ‘Survivor’?

So, my friend Scott Van Pelt, who has been managing a bed and breakfast on Isla Contadora hosted a reporter from the USA a few months back. Scott showed the reporter the destruction left behind by an international film crew shooting a “Survivor” television show. Scott explained to the reporter that we have had similar issues with reality tv shows in Bocas del Toro. The reporter gave me a call. I explained to him about what happened on Bluff Beach last year with El Desafio as well as the problems we have had with other reality tv shows filming throughout the archipelago in the past.

You can take a look for yourselves. What are your thoughts on reality tv shows filming in delicate environments? Should it be allowed at all?

Upsetting Turtle News


Photo Taken April 14th 2010 by Ron Dennis.

Survivor´ is building on the sands at Bluff Beach for another filming of the “Reality TV” show. Turtles are nesting nightly at Bluff Beach. It’s leatherback turtle nesting season! A group of us are fighting for the turtles. If you want to send an e-mail showing your own outrage, please send it to and we will make sure it gets seen.

Swim turtle swim

We went to the beach last week with the grandparents. It was a great day. We played in the water and along the shore. Tres and Scott were walking along the beach with Tres’ Grandma Anita. Scott saw a little baby turtle along the beach. That turtle had been injured by a crab. Nature. However we thought that maybe if the turtle was allowed to recuperate a bit he might be okay. So Jim rescued the turtle from the crab. We were going to take the turtle to Ramon and Natalia who study the turtles with WSC.

Ramon and Natalia came to see us at the beach when we were there. Jim and the boys had attempted to take the turtle to them at the same time they showed up. My dad and I told them about the baby turtle. They asked us where the turtle was found. They had been looking for a nest in that area that they had expected to hatch. After checking several locations, Natalia found the nest and all the egg shells left behind by the turtles. Jim and the kids came back as she was digging the nest out to count the shells to see how many turtles hatched.

Super cool to watch them go through the process to determine how many made it and if there were any eggs that didn’t hatch. The Hawksbill female lays about 140 eggs per nest. In this nest there were 137 eggs. Of that about four didn’t hatch. We also found this little guy. He didn’t make it out when the rest of his brothers and sisters made it out. The boys found one turtle that nature kept from making it, but because of that turtle we found a nest and rescued this turtle. Just one of the wonderful experiences we encounter here on a daily basis.


We got some video of this little guy making his way out to sea as well. I will post it in the near future.

Sea Turtles 2008

Coastal Conservation Corporation is responsible for protecting the turtles on several of the beaches here in Bocas del Toro. Our friends Ramon and Natalia have been caring for the turtles on these beaches for the last five years. We see them whenever we go out to the Zapatilla Cayes. They also come over to use our communications on occassion. They graciously provided us with a few of the photos they have taken over the term of their tenure here in Bocas. They have been blessed with some beautiful encounters over the years as you can see in these photos.

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Two of our guests were at the Zapatillas with Jay on Tuesday. Natalia took them along with her as she did her final check on a turtle nest. There was one baby turtle who hadn’t dug himself out. They helped him out of the nest and watched as he made his way to the sea. Over 100 turtles hatched and made it to sea as Natalia and Ramon kept watch. Thank you!

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I am going to update the Zapatilla Cay website and put all of their photos on the site. I will post on here when I have it completed.

sea turtle study and tagging

Doctors Anne & Peter Meylan have been studying the sea turtle population here in Bocas del Toro for some time now. Peter spent one night with us here at Tranquilo Bay. Jim took him back to the Zapatilla Cayes where he was studying the turtles and was fortunate enough to participate in the data collection and tagging process for a group of three turtles. turtle