Panama, Days 7-8

The halfway point of this trip found our group hard at work on a number of research projects. On Monday, we took a day off from diving; the morning was spent on a flat-bottomed boat, touring a series of mangrove swamps to collect data on the organisms found in such an environment. Besides the numerous crabs that scuttled up prop roots, across tree branches, and (occasionally) all over our boat, we spotted kingfishers, giant termites nests, scarlet ibises, green- and blue herons, squirrel cuckoos, and a two-toed sloth (who was moving far faster than one would normally expect a sloth to.)
That afternoon, we returned to the shallow bay we had explored on the 11th, in order to conduct some quadrant surveys on the large sea grass beds found there. Yours truly spotted a pair of small squid hiding among a fallen branch, and then discovered why it is a good idea to wear a weight belt when filming underwater, even if just snorkeling in swim trunks: I had to grab a rock about half the size of my head in order to sink down far enough to get a decent shot of the cephalopods.
We had originally planned a deep dive to 110′ for Tuesday morning, but had to switch plans when Terrence had to make an impromptu trip to Panama City that wouldn’t bring him back until later that afternoon. We delayed that dive until Wednesday, and instead revisited two sites near Drakes Island. At the first site, a large and and (apparently) curious Queen Angelfish followed us around the reef for the majority of the dive, while during the afternoon trip I got some excellent footage of a school of tangs and parrotfish grazing the algae off of a large brain coral specimen. That evening, I took the Gates housing to film some coral transects that we had set up just offshore from the hotel, and discovered another important thing to check for when shooting: make sure there is enough tape left! Fortunately, I got the footage I needed with not a second left to spare, and was able to unwind afterwards, playing guitar with some of the locals and learning a couple of new songs.