STRI Bocas del Toro station
“Bocas del toro, a Caribbean jewel and a natural laboratory that connects scientists from all over the world”
The archipelago of Bocas Del Toro is a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea, located in the northwest of Panama. The archipelago has three main marine habitats: coral reefs, seagrasses, and mangroves, and hosts a broad variety of fauna including sea turtles, sharks and rays, and dolphins, as well as sloths, howler monkeys, and poison dart frogs. In 1998, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Station (STRI) founded Bocas del Toro Research Station (BRS) on the main island of Isla Colon, and has provided field accommodation to many scientists around the world since 2004. Bocas Del Toro is a remarkable natural laboratory for studying evolution, climate change, marine biology and ecology, invertebrate, taxonomy, and human impacts on marine ecosystems. In addition, the archipelago forms a semi-enclosed tropical embayment, Bahia Almirante, which experiences seasonal hypoxia. Hypoxia can be detrimental to all marine ecosystems, and researchers have been working to understand and monitor this phenomenon. The MarineGEO program was launched at Bocas in 2015 and its research is active year-round at the station. The first MarineGEO staffer working at Bocas del Toro was Dr. Janina Seemann. MarineGEO currently supports monitoring of weather and water quality via a multiparameter sonde (sensor package) installed on a platform just off STRI’s dock as well as weekly monitoring of water quality at eight sites around the archipelago. MarineGEO technicians conduct standardized seagrass and coral reef surveys, and MarineGEO’s annual coordinated experiments. A collaborative habitat mapping project is currently is being performed around the archipelago.
Smithsonian Tropical Research Station