Octoque & Bona Island Gulf of Panama

Mar 21, 2018 - National Geographic Quest

Our last expedition of the season and the first day of spring, March 21 equinox, gave all of us some great active sightings this morning in the Pacific Gulf of Panama.  The upwelling was evident, the temperature of the waters were much cooler as comfortable winds blew. We explored these rookeries teaming with pelagic bird life.  From the Zodiacs we could see the frigate birds’ kleptoparasitic behavior, as they attacked the hard-working pelicans and boobies. These islands are only 12 miles off shore, but yield wonderful opportunities to see and photograph brown and blue-footed boobies, brown pelicans, magnificent frigate birds, yellow crowned night herons and American oyster catchers, to mention a few.  The island is covered in epiphytic cactus and stunted trees, an ideal scenario for these nesting birds at this time of the year.

As the day progressed, we lifted anchor and headed to our next destination, the island of Coiba Marine Nation Park. A day’s sail in the open ocean continued to yield some great sightings.  We spotted whales, turtles, dolphins bow riding and a crazy unexpected view of a hammerhead shark navigating the surface as our ship streamed by.  I have to say, that the first day of spring has treated us well!

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About the Author

Richard Cahill


Richard was born in Panama City to American parents.  He is a seasoned naturalist guide and expedition leader.  Educated in business administration, Richard was one of the founding pioneers of the first ecotourism company in Panama 25 years ago. 

About the Photographer

José Calvo

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Nicknamed “Indio” (Indian) because of his powers of observation and quiet nature, José has almost two decades of experience working as a naturalist and photography guide; as well as being recognized as an expert birder and nature photographer in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is rich in biodiversity — over 893 bird species have been recorded in the country. Since very young José spent all of his free time in the outdoors in the forest, where he soon fell in love with the birds. He particularly enjoys listening to their calls, and watching their behavior. Oddly enough, another one of Jose’s passions is science and technology, and because of this, he was among the first in Costa Rica to experiment with digital photography. As the technology quickly improved so did his love for it.  He truly believes that nature photography is the perfect combination of both of his passions.

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