Yesterday we caught a boat from the STRI dock near Gamboa to go and visit Barro Colorado Island (or BCI as it is affectionately known). It was well worth the hour long boat ride to get there and the $4 for lunch. BCI is a STRI research station on an island with diverse wildlife and several protected areas. Even though it is isolated from the mainland by the Panama Canal, many of the animals on BCI are the same as on the mainland. For instance, we saw a green and black poison dart frog (Dendrobates auratus) that was a “six-spotted” morph, the same as one that we saw earlier in the week from Ankon Hill in Panama City. BCI is also thought to have possibly escaped the spread of Bd through Panama, although it didn’t escape the invasive mourning geckos (Lepidodactylus lugubris).
On BCI we were fortunate enough to see both species of large monkeys – the howlers and Central American spider monkeys! I also found a helmeted iguana (Corytophanes cristatus), which is one of the species that I really wanted to see. Unfortunately this one was dying – it had lost an eye and was severely emaciated. That took a little of the glory out of my find, but it was still pretty cool to see one up close and personal. For anyone thinking of visiting Panama, BCI is definitely worth going to visit, because the rainforest there is relatively pristine compared to Gamboa and it is a great place to see cool
monkeys and birds!