Tuesday, March 15, 2016

More on Coiba's fauna

If you only watch endemic birds during your visit to Coiba Island, off-shore central Panama, then you did it wrong.  Coiba is such an amazing place... rich in wildlife, most of it quite distinctive, reason why it is a national park including the surrounding waters, (rich in wildlife as well).  First of all, the boat ride from mainland is usually enriched with sightings of pelagic birds, whales and dolphins.  One of the most regular species is the Pantropical Spotted Dolphin... we found a pod of these graceful swimmers close to mainland.
Pantropical Spotted Dolphins
As its name suggests, they are widespread in tropic oceans; however, the next species is unique to Coiba.  It is pretty common and used to visitors around the rangers headquarters... in fact, I took the next photography right by the dinner hall.  As many other "endemics", this one looks rather similar to a mainland species; however, the Coiban Agouti differs in some skeletal (craneal) parameters.
Coiban Agouti
During my short visit to Coiba Island a couple of weeks ago, I managed to see many endemic subspecies of birds and mammals, including the agouti.  Curiously, the only mammal we actually targeted in this trip was not seen... but at least we heard it (or them) a couple of times.  For example, one of them vocalized at the beginning of this sound file recorded in Los Monos trail.
Did you hear it?  Listen carefully... just some howls at the very beginning.  Sometimes regarded as a good species, the Coiba Howler Monkey is most often considered a subspecies of the Mantled Howler Monkey.  When treated as full species, usually includes the Azuero Howler Monkey that is restricted (as its name suggest) to the Azuero Peninsula in central Panama... you can check some photos of this howler in this post.  Now another question.  Did you recognize the song in the sound file?  It was a White-throated Thrush, also represented by an endemic subspecies in Coiba.
The howlers were not the only primates recorded in the trip, we also saw a troop of White-faced Capuchins patrolling the beach near the rangers headquarters.  A lonely Bare-throated Tiger-Heron didn't pay too much attention to them, but they were the main starts during our departure of the island.
White-faced Capuchins (Coiba Island) 
White-faced Capuchin and Bare-throated Tiger-Heron
There are many endemic forms of animals and plants in the island... too many to list.  During a previous visit to the island I also saw the endemic subspecies of White-tailed Deer very close to the rangers headquarters... I managed a photo with a point-and-shoot camera... it is the smallest form of this widespread species.
tiny White-tailed Deer, ssp. rothschildi (Coiba Island)
Well, after all it was a great trip... birds, mammals and I not even mention ALL the lifers I got underwater while snorkeling with Kees at the coral reef in Granito de Oro Island... just another world!  

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