DER in Panama

Once again, today marked my weekly responsibility to write the Daily Expedition Report (DER) for our voyage in Panama and Costa Rica. This trip is going well – the guests are nice (always a plus) and I’ve been kept pretty busy with massages, which makes the days go by faster. I’d rather have that than always searching for something productive to do. Tonight we round Punta Mala, or Bad Point, so I’m crossing my fingers that it will stay (relatively) smooth!

9 January, 2012
Isla Otoque, Isla Bona, and Iguana Island

We started the day off early with those who wished to partake in an early morning Zodiac cruise at Otoque and Bona islands, both known for their abundant bird life. The islands are located just at the entrance of the Bay of Panama and due to an upwelling of colder, nutrient-dense waters, the area is extremely high in productivity in the form of basic sea life. This productivity draws thousands of sea birds and other larger wildlife who rely on the rich waters for food. Several of the bird species we spotted included frigate birds, who’s light bone structure allows them to float in the air with minimal effort for hours, and even days on end. We also enjoyed good looks of brown-footed boobies, blue-footed boobies – their webbed feet a light sky blue, rather than the brilliant azure they display during mating season – brown pelicans, and even an osprey and peregrine falcon, the fastest creature on earth. The sharp eyes of our Costa Rican Zodiac drivers picked out some well-hidden iguanas, their scaly hides blending in almost perfectly with the green cacti they sat upon.

Just after we picked up anchor to move to our afternoon destination, our chief engineer spotted the salty columnar blow of a Bryde’s whale. Known for its elusiveness, we only got a few good glimpses of the whale as it came to the surface to breathe, but it was an exciting occasion because we don’t often see whales here in Costa Rica and Panama.

After cruising for several hours, we made a late afternoon landing at a place called Iguana Island, located off the southeastern coast of the Azuero Peninsula. There, we donned our snorkel masks and flippers and dove into the warm, but refreshing water in search of colorful fish and other marine wildlife. The naturalists also led a few hikes along the hard-packed trails crisscrossing the islands, pointing out interesting details and putting names to various plants, trees, and fauna.

Just before we had to leave the beach and return to the NG Sea Lion, we were regaled by a beautiful sunset that rendered the ship a dark silhouette and tinted the beach in an orange and gold glow. It was a perfect ending to a memorable day.

Becky Timbers, Wellness Specialist


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