Mission Blue: Coiba, Panama
Isla Granito de Oro, Parque Nacional Coiba. Photo source: ©© Seibert
Coiba National Park, located off the southwest coast of Panama, is made up of Coiba Island, 38 smaller islands and the surrounding marine areas within the Gulf of Chiriqui.
Considered a precious jewel of the Pacific, Coiba is a critical part of the Eastern Pacific Seascape, a broad ocean area within the waters of Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador.
The Mission Blue team—including oceanographer Sylvia Earle and Smithsonian senior scientists Hector Guzman—embarked on an expedition to draw attention to the importance of Coiba’s protection and explore its waters…
The Mission Blue team—including oceanographer Sylvia Earle and Smithsonian senior scientists Hector Guzman—embarked on an expedition to the national park to draw attention to the importance of Coiba’s protection and explore its waters. The researchers collected corals, tube worms, black coral, a sea pen, bryozoans, pink stylaster coral, brittle stars, and black solitary cup coral from the ocean floor about 200 meters below the surface. The crew said they felt “as if we were discovering a new planet . . . our own mysterious ocean.”
Coiba National Park
Identified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2005, Coiba National Park offers rich and well preserved natural resources. Because Isla Coiba served Panama as a penal colony, access to the island was very restricted. Almost by accident, 80% of the islands natural resources have survived untouched and flourished through limited human contact.