The province of Bocas del Toro comprises of part of the mainland and nine main islands in the Caribbean Sea and as of 2010 has a population of 125,461 people. It was actually Christopher Columbus that discovered these parts in 1502 when he was searching for a passage through Central America. Instead he found mangrove islands, turquoise waters and colorful fish.
Today, the capital of Bocas del Toro is Bocas Town, which was my destination last weekend for a few days off. Unfortunately, as it has a tropical rainforest climate, the weather is unpredictable and it rained the entire time I was there. So much for the dry season! To get to Bocas Town you must take a water taxi from Almirante, which costs $4 and takes about 30min. Its super easy.
Due to bad infrastructure, the is a huge trash problem on the island and the water is not drinkable. This was definitely a change from the water on the mainland that comes directly from a spring. There is also no real coffee shop in the town (that I was able to find), which totally boggled my mind. BUT the water-side restaurants kindly made up for this like this one below that was actually on a boat!!
This was my first time to the Caribbean and as such I couldn’t wait to go under water and swim with the fish! My lady friend Alex was visiting from the UK, so we booked a trip for our second day out to a ship wreck (ferry wreck) along with a few divers (as shown below). The wreck was incredible! It was like stumbling upon a ghost town as the ship slowly appeared to us through the murky waters.
I was really hoping to see a nurse shark at the wreck but unfortunately no luck Maybe next time. There was also a shallow coral reef that was both impressive and sad.
Although many varieties of fish and invertebrates remained, the coral was heavily damaged by destruction and bleaching. Coral reef bleaching results from the loss or reduction of symbiotic zooxantheallae. This can be caused by increasing sea temperatures, sedimentation, inorganic nutrients, as well as other causes, however, mainly it is thought to be due to global climate change. If global climate change continues, coral reefs may be in serious danger of extinction. Conservation efforts in Bocas have just begun, but they need funding. Please visit the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s website to help.
Although many species have already gone extinct and even more are endangered, there still remain a lot of beautiful species that we can save like these below:
Buchheim, Jason. Coral Reef Bleaching. Odyssey Expeditions, 1998.