(Santa Catalina, Panama)
I don’t want this to taint what was otherwise an awesome day, but I have to say it. Mo and I went on a dive boat out to Coiba today and unbeknownst to us we signed up for the PDA boat. Public Displays of Affection. Never been a fan. Obviously though, the three couples who were on our tour are. One in particular were seemingly unable to function without the caressing touch of the other.
Okay I’m done. Moving on to the good stuff.
Coiba National Park is a designated ecotourism and scientific research area. Meaning the large island of Coiba and its surrounding cays and waters, harbour many different species of wildlife both in and out of the water. From 1919 to 2004, Isla Coiba was the home of a prison for Panama’s most dangerous criminals. Because of this, access to the Island was very restricted and it resulted in preserving the natural ecosystems.
On our tour today with Coiba Dive Center out of Santa Catalina, we saw it all! On the boat ride over we saw pods of playing dolphins, and even a humback whale with her small calf. During our first dive we spotted whitetip reef sharks, turtles, eels, blue jacks, parrot fish, barracudas, and a huge school of jacks that would completely envelop you if you dove down into it. Then while motoring over to the Ranger Station for lunch we came across a couple fornicating turtles. Yup, two turtles going at it on top of the water. Certainly a new sighting to write home about.
After lunch at the ranger station – which included a quick walk to visit the resident crocodile Tito – we headed back out on the boat for our second and last dive of the day. Here we saw more of the same. Jacks, angel fish, clown fish, and whitetip reef sharks, which, I must admit are much less terrifying when you don’t have Gregory killing things and bloodying up the water beside you. What stood out for me on today’s dives compared to other dives I’ve done with Greg was the sheer number of fish. There was no shortage of large schools cruising around. A sight surely worth the trip.
* Note: all of the underwater photos are compliments of Coiba Dive Center and their Dive Master Louis.