Saturday, September 1, 2012

Parking Lot Ecotourism

Look what we saw from my office window today!

It seems that the two-toed sloths like to forage in that particular tree. Someone told me that sloths especially like the white flowers on these trees, but from here I can’t see any flowers.   I most often see the sloths around 4pm, just after the students leave for the van that takes them back to the city.  Sloths aren’t social but there are usually two together, and I wonder why; are they mother and baby? They look too close in size for that.  Friends? Competitors, each one trying to get to the best leaves first?

For marine biologists it is fantastic and a little bit unusual to be so close to forest animals. Because the island is so small, wildlife from the seasonal dry forest on Naos and Culebra often venture down into the parking lot. And they come close to the office windows. So we can see some nice animals from the comfort of our office chairs. It makes a nice break.

We often see green iguanas sunning themselves on the roofs. It’s a treat to see a large male climbing up the papaya trees around the lab. They feast on the fruit as they ripen, leaving none for us.

Green iguana and papayas

In the early evening it’s common to see armadillos at the edge of the shrubbery. Bats come later to feed on the fruits of the sea almond trees planted around the parking lot. At night they are just a flurry of wings in the dark, but in the morning we find the chewed fruits lying under the trees.

Nine-banded Armadillo

We are also surrounded by numerous smaller animals: lizards, song birds, myriad insects, spiders, scorpions….  Even though we are biologists, few of us stop to observe these less obvious animals.  We keep our heads down as we hurry from the parking lot to our offices in the morning or head home at the end of the day.  But who doesn’t stop to watch a sloth?


  1. Those pictures are really nice! I haven't seen Armadillos on the parking lot when I was around but I already miss the sluggish Iguanas.

    Keep up the blog, it's really nice work and brings (at least) me closer to Panama again.

    Through envy, amazement and joy over the pictures, country and people I whish you all the best. Keep it going!