Lindblad Expeditions - From the National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama - Rich Kircher, naturalist/photo instructor

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From the National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica & Panama

Feb 28, 2013 - National Geographic Sea Lion

Hermit crab on Bayoneta Island
Panama Canal at night

Pearl Islands, Bayoneta & Vivienda Islands; Gulf of Panama


During the night the National Geographic Sea Lion sailed into the Bay of Panama, where we had another date of exploration. Our destination was a group of islands that are rarely visited, the Pearl Islands. They got their name from the abundance of pearls that were in the area during the years of Spanish domination.


Soon after breakfast we headed out for the morning activities: snorkeling, Zodiac cruises, photography, or just relaxing on a beautiful beach. Birds seemed to be the focus of the cruises, while macro photography was the emphasis on the beach, with tide pools and some rather large hermit crabs as the subjects! We had another date for later that day, the Panama Canal, so it was back to the ship and underway by eleven.


While everyone was enjoying an ice cream social on the sundeck after lunch, some Brydes whales were spotted near the ship. We had a few extra minutes to stop and enjoy these magnificent cetaceans, but soon it was back to our navigating toward Panama City, and the entrance to the canal.


Once we picked up our pilot we started up the waterway leading to the first set of locks, picking up canal line-handlers along the way. The excitement was building by the moment as we followed a large ship into the first lock. The sun had just set, and that late evening light made for some interesting photos of our transit. Soon it was dinner time, but it was not long before everyone was called back to the decks as we entered the second lock. In all, we raised the National Geographic Sea Lion 90 feet above sea level, and then exited into the large man-made Gatun Lake.


By then it was time to enjoy looking at all our photos, and slip into a well deserved night’s sleep! Another full, but wonderful day!