It has been an exciting couple of days with wildlife and awareness of biodiversity. We delayed our departure in orderto visit the Smithsonian Tropical centre at Punta Culebra, just 100 yards from Tin Tin. The centre does a great job of introducing people to coastal and marine wildlife through open air dosipalys. We met hawksbill and green turtles swimming in a tank within finger nipping distance, and nurse sharks and star fish and sea anemones too. The beach has turtles which return to lay eggs, and lots of crabs scuttling around. But the most exciting moment was meeting a sloth! This one -two or three toed- I can't recall - was relaxing in a tree at about head height and I was able to get close to sketch him. I swear he opened one eye and winked at me! Later I spotted three of the other fifteen sloths hanging around in the top of trees. Emily spotted one legging it along the barbed wire fence around the car park!
Next I went to the Biodiversity Museo which is a startlingly colourful building on the causeway out to La Playita. It was designed by famous architect, Frank Geary, and our taxi driver had said that it resembles coloured paper screwed up by a child and thrown in the bin! I found it an new citing sight, and ask wall,ed under teh coloured planes of theropod I entered a grey interior evoking forest trees through its branched pillars. There were some great exhibits; the Panamarama is a huge room walled and floored with screens on which images of wildlife are projected whilst one listens to the sounds of the jungle, ocean or animals. Very impressive. Then on through geology of the bridge linking the Americas and into a huge atrium filled with life sized leaping animals, representing the clash between separate ecosystems of north and south when the continents were joined.
Then today, Sunday 5th March we finally set sail to escape Panama City, and in 25 knots of wind our sails filled and we fled through the field of anchored tankers to the open sea. I went below and slept for a blissful couple of hours in my bunk, rocked by the movement of the boat. When I woke I found that the Las Perlas Islands were in sight. Suddenly something jumped out of the water and splashed dramatically ahead of us. It turned out not to be a whale, but a manta ray. Then for the next two hours the sea around us was constant,y erupting with big manta rays leaping and turning somersaults.
Next we caught a tuna, and while getting a bucket of water to wash off the blood, I spotted whale shark just below me. It was 20 feet long, and had a spotted skin with a flat head. Very exciting!
The Pacific is absolutely teeming with life in contrast to the Caribbean!
Finally we dropped anchor between Isla Mogo Mogo and Isla Chaporra, and Emily pumped up her new paddle board and went off with great poise.