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)

Historical Video – A landmark of Caribbean history

Ashley Bowes and Janina Seemann created this wonderful video about the history of the province of Bocas del Toro, Panama. Both woman are associated with the Bocas Research Station at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Camera and speaker: Ashley Bowes

Produced and edited by: Janina Seemann

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 2013

SHOUT Online Learning Portal


Earlier this week I found a new project that the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute is doing in combination with some other organizations. The program called SHOUT is for students and educators to meet together in an online community to learn more about a variety of global environmental issues. There are live sessions, podcasts, and recorded versions of the live sessions to review. I listened to a podcast by the director of STRI to learn a bit more about what STRI does and will be doing. You might want to go check it all out. Here is the link: The Deforest Action program appears to be a great project for kids. I assure you that ours will be getting into it.

Woody Vines – Smithsonian Research

STRI had this article up on its page several weeks ago. I find it interesting to watch and see if the vines are in fact more numerous than in the past. We haven’t noticed anything in particular, but now we are watching for this type of growth. We have one vine mat in particular directly above the entry into the walkway to the ocean facing cabanas that is enormous. It does receive more sun than the trees in that location so it matches with the research in this article.

STRI 2010

We are lucky here in Panama for a variety of different reasons. One reason is that Panama is an amazing laboratory to learn a variety of different things about nature. There are many different groups that study wildlife in Panama and Bocas del Toro in particular. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) makes it much easier for each of the scientists to conduct research in the tropics.

From STRI’s website: The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution (STRI) in Panama, is a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution based outside of the United States, is dedicated to understanding biological diversity. What began in 1923 as small field station on Barro Colorado Island, in the Panama Canal Zone, has developed into one of the leading research institutions of the world. STRI’s facilities provide a unique opportunity for long-term ecological studies in the tropics, and are used extensively by some 900 visiting scientists from academic and research institutions in the United States and around the world every year. The work of our resident scientists has allowed us to better understand tropical habitats and has trained hundreds of tropical biologists.

STRI’s Bocas del Toro Research Station is home to a number of scientists on a regular basis. They are based in this facility whenever they are doing research throughout the archipelago. We have been fortunate to have had two different red frog studies use the grounds at Tranquilo Bay for part of their research. One such study has just published a paper as designated in STRI’s news for October. If you are interested in reading the newsletter there is a link to it below.

You can also follow both STRI and the Bocas Research Station on Facebook.

STRI News Oct.1, 2010