Two-Year Coíba Bioblitz Project Concludes with Photography Exhibit in Panama City

An international team of photographers and scientists, supported in part by The Baum Foundation and organized by the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), spent the last two years as part of the “Coíba Bioblitz” project documenting and describing the astounding biodiversity and natural landscapes of Panama’s Isla Coíba. The team completed four expeditions, including two with a team of taxonomists, with the goal of raising awareness of Coíba’s unique ecology. Members of The Baum Foundation also participated in the first of these expeditions.

Coiba

Isla Coiba is located off the Pacific Coast of Panama. Photo: Panama Magazine

Isla Coíba, Central America’s largest uninhabited island spanning more than 500 square kilometers and covered by lush tropical rainforest, offers a living example of rare and diverse ecosystems almost entirely untouched by human contact for more than 500 years, with the only exception being a high-security penal colony and prison established in 1919 and closed in 2004. When rising ocean waters split Coíba off from mainland Central America between 12,000 and 18,000 years ago, plants and animals on the young island became isolated and over the millennia most species diverged in appearance and behavior from their mainland counterparts.

Coiba Bioblitz seeds

A small fraction of the incredible diversity of Coiba’s plant seeds. Photo: Christian Ziegler for iLCP

The conclusion of the Coíba Bioblitz project was celebrated with a photography exhibition, entitled “Coíba: From Prison to Natural Reserve”, that opened on August 21, 2017 at the Plaza del Mar Multiplaza in Panama City and moved to other locations within Panama City during the following weeks. A special invitational event was held at the Riande Granada Urban Hotel in Panama City on August 27, 2017. The exhibition is in support of Coíba National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes Isla Coíba, 37 other islands, and their surrounding waters.

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