We have just arrived after an exciting day at the ocean, specifically around the Gulf of Panama, participating in a whale-watching trip guided by my friend Venicio "Beny" Wilson. I went with Gloriela and Gabrielle, and three other participants, leaving Panama City early in the morning and heading directly off shore, to the waters surrounding Otoque island.
With the town of Otoque Oriente in sight, our captain pointed out the first marine creature of the day, a huge Sea Turtle that made a brief appearance for our delight. We don't know the exact species, nor which one is expected in these waters... any help?
Very close, southeast of Otoque, is the island of Boná, the first thing we noted was some old structures covered in vegetation that used to be some kind of excavation project, long ago abandoned.
However, I was more interested in the seabirds colony of the islands, mainly Magnificent Frigatebirds. Hundreds of these masters of the air, including many young birds, were on their nests or flying around us.
There were also boobies on the cliffs... both Blue-footed and Brown Boobies nest in this island, and we saw many of these species resting at the cliffs, sometimes side-by-side!
But it was the Boná's turquoise, warm waters that we liked most, and we couldn't resist to have a bath. Gloriela took the photo of us holding my camera with just one hand (Gabrielle was in the other arm)... she did the same when she photographed the immature Brown Booby that circled us, probably thinking that we were fishing or something.
The third island of that group, Estivá, is quite curious in having a huge cave excavated in one of its cliffs... with bats included.
The rocky northern tip of the island was full of Brown Pelicans and Blue-footed Boobies as well.
We left this group of islands and head north, in our way to the Valladolid islet. Before reaching the islet, we crossed a group of shorebird-like birds that we confirmed were Red-necked Phalaropes. We also got closer views of both Brown and Blue-footed Boobies (on a log), and saw two different Bridled Terns; however, I was unable to focus my lens on them... my record shot is just for documentation... in spite it is flurry, you can see the characteristic profile and longish tail, as well as the upperparts color, ruling out other -more common- terns.
At the Valladolid islet, we also saw many pelicans and more boobies... but this islet in particular was dominated by Neotropic Cormorants, that flew as soon as we approached them.
We did see some cetaceans, in the form of Bottlenose Dolphins; however, the whales failed to show... still, we were very happy with the experience... surely we will repeat it! Thanks Beny for the trip!