This morning found us still crossing the Panama Canal. At 1:00 a.m., we bid farewell to one of the Modern Wonders of the World and began our exploration of the wild side of Panama and later, Costa Rica. After breakfast, we set out to explore beautiful Bona and Otoque Islands, only 22 miles south of the Panama Canal exit. Influenced by the coastal upwelling caused by the northeasterly winds, the Bay of Panama is filled with nutrient rich waters. These waters attract fish that attract other fish-dependent fauna. Various marine birds and even marine mammals are commonly found in the bay due to this phenomenon.

Despite the winds, we boarded our faithful Zodiacs in the early hours to explore. We were rewarded with amazing sightings of brown and blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigatebirds, brown pelicans, and various shorebirds. As we headed back to National Geographic Quest, a very rare sight surprised us: a pod of twelve to fourteen false killer whales. We always laugh when we tell guests, “If you see the naturalists jumping and shouting and elbowing their way to the front, you know it’s a rare occasion!”

Back on board for a 190-nautical-mile reposition, we went to bed with smiles on our faces and high hopes for tomorrow’s adventure.