Field Report Panama
Panama is a thriving country with a diverse population and culture, a popular destination for travelers. Nicknamed “El Punte Del Mundo,” it the only place where you can see the sunrise and sunset over both oceans on the same day. Pro surfers have long traveled to the small town of Bocas del Toro known for its lush archipelago of islands, unique wildlife and terrific surf sites.
A genetically unique group of inshore bottlenose dolphins (estimated to number 200 individuals) are part of growing tourism attraction in nearby Dolphin Bay. Unfortunately the dolphin watching is largely unregulated, with 35 or more boats targeting the dolphins each morning. In the past four years 10 dolphins have died as a result of boat collisions due to overzealous approaches by the boat operators.
Pacific Whale Foundation provided funding for research on the dolphins two years ago to better understand the population dynamics of the dolphins and socio-economics of the dolphin watch industry. It is our hope to mitigate the impacts of the dolphin watching activities, reduce stress and acoustic disturbances, and increase resting time.