Coiba World Heritage Site, Panamá

2024 TBA

US $6500 Per Volunteer

*Tax deductible in the US.
Eligible for employer matching to reduce participant cost. 25% due upon booking

8 nights

5 days of diving

A unique opportunity to advance tropical marine research in Panama!

MarAlliance invites you to immerse yourself in a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Coiba National Park, Panama. Join our team of marine biologists, guides and fishers for an unforgettable week: experience the life of a tropical marine field biologist while helping us collect invaluable data on populations, abundance, density and habitat preference of a range of species of sharks, rays, sea turtles, and other poorly studied marine megafauna in this unique UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You will be on the front line of marine megafauna monitoring and contribute to the conservation of these vital inhabitants, while experiencing an unparalleled underwater world. During this dive-focused Expedition, we will train you to be directly involved in each aspect of field work from underwater visual surveys and megafauna tagging that will bring you one on one with Panama’s most exhilarating marine animals, launching baited remote underwater videos, to setting longlines with hands-on work to capture, measure, and tag sharks and rays.

We are excited to have the opportunity to share our findings with you and the field work will be complemented by presentations by our research team during the course of the week.

Why are marine megafauna important?

Megafauna play an essential ecological role within marine communities, helping to balance and maintain fish and reef populations. Throughout the world these important creatures face multiple threats, and populations are in decline due to overfishing and destruction of their habitat. Knowledge of the diversity and abundance of marine megafauna and how their populations change over time is crucial to managing these populations.

Monitoring through fisheries-independent methods enables researchers and government officials to understand the status of marine megafauna populations and the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas, as well as fill in gaps in our knowledge of their life history including their habitat use and movements throughout their life cycle.

MarAlliance’s work in Panama

With over 1,500 miles (2,500 km) of coastline along the Pacific and Caribbean sides, Panama hosts a wide variety of marine habitats. While fishing is an important source of income for a large number of Panamanians, monitoring the volume of fish caught is almost nonexistent and anecdotal reports suggest declines in fish populations throughout the country. Although few fishers directly target sharks and rays, incidental capture is not uncommon and shark meat can be found in many fish markets.

MarAlliance leads annual monitoring of the marine megafauna at several sites along the Caribbean and the Pacific, including the indigenous Guna Yala Comarca, Bocas del Toro (see expedition), and we have recently launched research and monitoring efforts in Coiba World Heritage Site and National Park.

Coiba World Heritage Site and National Park, Panama

Panama’s Coiba Island and its surrounding waters, a UNESCO World Heritage site and National Park located in the Gulf of Chriqui, are considered to have some of the richest marine biodiversity in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. Frequented by divers and sports fishers, this is an important foraging ground for key populations of endangered scalloped hammerheads, whale sharks, and mantas which form part of our recently initiated site-based monitoring and conservation efforts.

Price includes

  •  Round trip ground transfers from Panama City to Santa Catalina, round trip boat transfers to Bahia Honda
  • 5 days of diving 3-tank dives – where necessary
  • All boat based work and travel
  • Coiba National Park fees
  • Accommodations
    2 nights in Panama City
    3 nights at Bahia Honda (double occupancy)
    2 nights at Pixuae (double occupancy)
  • All meals, snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages from Saturday arrival dinner to the next Friday dinner in Panama City
  • Nice swag bag!

Price does not include

  • International airfare to Panama City
  • Roundtrip taxi transfer to hotel
  • Meals before dinner on the first Saturday night, and after the dinner on Friday night before the Saturday departure
  • Tips
  • Personal items and incidentals