Today I’m on the Caribbean coast of Panama, at the Bocas del Toro Research Station. As scientific director of the station I make frequent trips across the country from my base in the Naos Laboratories in Panama City.
|The 6am departure makes|
for a long day.
|It is best to arrive before the rush.|
The Monday morning flight is popular and there are often several STRI visitors or employees on the fight. 10 years ago when I first started to travel to Bocas you could arrive 15 minutes before the flight and you could get a coffee for 50 cents. Now the airport is often packed and it’s hard to believe that the fancy coffee shops charge $4 for a small “large”.
|Fort Amador on a hazy morning.|
Islas Naos, Perico and Flamenco.
For more about the Causeway and
Coming into Bocas...
An early morning, hazy view of mangrove islands
around the large island of Solatre.
......offers a great view of the complex topography of the region. Several large islands surrounded by numerous small cays are all fringed with mangroves. If you look closely you can see that the mangroves are taller around the edges of the small keys. You can’t tell from the air, but the trees in the center of these islands are dwarfs, reaching heights of only 3-4 feet. Research at the Bocas Research Station has shown that this pattern is due to nutrient limitation. Seawater brings nutrients to the outer trees but as the water penetrates the dense mass of roots the nutrients are rapidly depleted. If you fertilize the trees on the inside they shoot up and begin to look like the outer trees.
|One of the Zapatilla Cays is the site of a long-term project on the biology and |
conservation of hawksbill turtles. The view from the plane is nicer on sunny days.
A very quiet early morning on a wet day. You can hardly
imagine this sleepy main street full of tourists.
Arriving at the station before 8, I have a few minutes before the staff arrive and the researchers appear, ready for another day in the field or lab.
|The BRS station building. Peaceful in the early morning.|