So now that were out of the locks, we would be moving up the Panamanian coast stopping at a couple islands to do some hiking and snorkeling before moving on to the Costa Rica coast. Because we reached our first stop, La Isla Iguana, early we had to sit off the islands for a few hours because of low tide before we could get close enough to go ashore. As a result, we spent the morning learning about snorkeling, mask fitting and camera hacks to get the most of your smart phone. Since I do not use my iPhone for pictures (my phone is a very old V8 – yes, I am resistant to change when it comes to electronics; I held onto my Blackberry until my firm advised that I had to upgrade to an iPhone), I wasn’t sure how much I would gain from the camera hacks program. However, the program turned out to be really interesting and I actually learned some things.
Anyway, after lunch it was time to head to shore as the tide was high enough to move the ship closer to shore with the final push done in zodiacs. I was part of the group that was going to do a two mile hike before snorkeling so we were in the zodiacs and first on the island.
The walk took us on a path through low hanging trees and tropical vegetation. The island was mostly volcanic rock so the path was fairly rocky. We had not been walking long when we came across a black spiney tailed (ctenosaur) lizard. I stopped to watch it for bit while the others continued on and boom … there was another black spiney tailed lizard in the log on which the first lizard was situated. I noticed the first lizard bobbing its head up and down (just like I saw the iguanas do when I was in the Galapagos last year) and before I could set my camera to video, the first lizard attacked the lizard in the log. I did manage to snag a picture as the first lizard was ready to attach again, but then first lizard scooted under a tree leaving the second lizard still hiding in the log.
By now, my group was quite a ways in front of me so I had to run up to catch up.the group. Once I caught up, I found the group looking at an empty coconut shell filled with tiny hermit crabs and even more tiny baby hermit crabs.
From there we moved on spotting a beautiful green butterfly on a leaf. Now I have seen a lot of butterflies in tropical climates, but this was the first green butterfly I can ever recall seeing. I was pretty awesome.
At this point, we were about half way through the hike and I had yet to see an iguana. I subsequently learned that the iguanas tended to gather away from our hiking trail so NO IGUANAS FOR YOU!
Instead, the area were were hiking to on La Isla Iguana is known for its proliferation of frigate birds, whichswarm around the shores. And while we could see the birds in the sky from our landing point, the main viewing area was on the other side of the island. And as we neared the other side of the island, the frigate bird population exploded. The birds were swooping and swarming all over the place and many of the male birds were already sporting their red bulges underneath their beaks, which is the classic sign they are ready to mate. (In fact I was in the Galapagos the same time last year and saw the same thing.). Periodically, we would see a female frigate (distinguished from the male by her white crown and no red bulge) and she would be immediately swarmed by the male frigates.
We spent about 15 minutes in the area before moving across the beach, up the small hill and back into the tropical vegetation for a quick hike back to our beach where we were going to snorkel.. Along the trail our guide pointed out a deep wide hole just off the path, which he explained was from a “practice bombing” in World War II. Yikes.
Anyway, after the hike, I put on my snorkel gear and headed out towards a coral reef where I spotted some beautiful multi-coloured fish including a small very unusual grey fish with white spots and large schools of fish no bigger than half the size of my thumb. And as luck would have it, I forgot my water camera on my counter at home and only realized it when I went looking for it in my bag once on the ship so no underwater pictures.
By 4:00, it was time to head back to the boat. All in all, it had been a lovely afternoon. Tomorrow we move further up the Panamanian coast to La Isla Cocos and Coiba Island.