What do the Galapagos, Cocos, Malpelo, Gorgona and Coiba have in common?
These areas are all connected by the same underwater mountain chain. They occupy the same faults in the earth's crust. And, share the same animals and geographic area. In fact, Conservation International calls this group of magical marine parks, "The Corridor". In Coiba, you may see the Galapagos sharks, giant manta rays, devil rays, whale sharks, humpback whales, turtles, and a great variety of the typical Pacific tropical ornamental fishes, and even some you wouldn't expect. You will even see species that don't exist anywhere else and are endimic to Coiba only. Unlike the other areas, Coiba is full of hard and soft corals. Even outside of the park, on the Island of Montuoso, during the season, you may see the Galapago's seals. They vacation here to get away from the crowds at the Galapagos...
This is a recommendation from Conservation International on how all of these areas should be managed together as the same group.
The Coiba National Park (CNP) is situated off the Pacific Coast of Panama in the Gulf of Chiriquí. These uninhabited islands that make up the park have a wild and spectacular beauty. The calm waters around these volcanic jungle-clad islands offer some of the world's best diving. Coiba National Park is also an area of growing interest to the scientific community, for its abundance of unique marine and terrestrial flora and fauna that surround the second largest coral reef in the eastern pacific.
The Reefs are the result of a happy geographical and geological phenomena. First, Panama's Cordillera Central, which runs from Costa Rica to the center of the country shields the Gulf of Chiriquí, protecting it's warm waters, creating the perfect conditions conducive to the growth of coral. Second, Coiba is bathed by Indo-Pacific currents bringing organisms that would otherwise be found in the South Pacific, far from Central America
CNP's marine fauna include 23 species of whales and dolphins, including humpback, sperm and killer whales, which habitat its waters year round according to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. It is one of the largest marine parks in the world - 2,701 sq km - made up of Isla Coiba and 38 smaller island including Brincanco Island, Uva Island, Canal de Afuera Island, Rancheria Island, Jicaron Island, and Jicarita Island.
The diving has been described as a combination of the Galapagos Islands, Equador and the Cocos Islands, Costa Rica. However this area is virtually virgin territory for the scuba diver.
The water temperature at the surface is in the low 80's, however thermoclines are common at depth dropping the temperature to the mid 70's, therefore a 3 mm wetsuit is recommended. Currents are variable depending on the tide. A 2 to 5 meter ( 8 to 16 feet) tidal exchange is present around the islands and can sometimes make diving challenging. The typical visibility on average is around 15 meters (45 feet), but ranges to well over 40 meters (120 feet) regularly.
Coiba separated from continental Panama about 12,000 to 18,000 years ago, isolating many endemic species (native animals and plants). There are 147 species of birds found on Coiba; one species and 20 subspecies are native to the area. The agouti of Coiba Island (Dasyprocta coibae), a subspecies of the howler monkey (Alouatta palliata coibensis), a subspecies of possums (Didelphis marsupials battyi), and a subspecies of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus rothchildi) are found no where else in the world.
It is estimated that about 1450 species of plants on the island, (only 758 have been identified) may hold the cure for diseases like AIDS, cancer, and diabetes.