Iguana Island Wildlife Refuge

Mar 17, 2019 - National Geographic Quest

Leaving Panama City, National Geographic Quest sailed out of the area’s bay to Iguana Island. Formerly used as target practice for bombers during World War II, the craters left behind can still be seen some 70 years later. The island was later turned into a wildlife refuge in 1981 because of the abundance of frigatebirds and other wildlife. With the anchor dropped, our outing began.

Many guests did not hesitate to grab gear for snorkeling in the crystal waters surrounding the island. The weather was fantastic today. Parrot fish filling the water, frigatebirds in the sky, and the island’s white sand beach all made for an exceptional day of land and water activity. We continue now sailing toward our next destination, catching rays, dolphins, and schools of tropical fish along the way.

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About the Author

Maguil Céspedes


Although Maguil was born in San Jose, he was raised in the countryside of Costa Rica, and it was this experience that provided him with a deep knowledge of and a profound love for the rural life of Central America.  It was this passion for nature that led Maguil to study biology at the University of Costa Rica, where he received his master’s degree in 2002. His thesis explored the genetic structure of big leaf mahogany, an endangered species of tree that is commercially extinct in much of Central America.

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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