March 4, 2013

Coiba, PanamaIdentified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2005, Coiba National Park is located in the Gulf of Chiriquí, Coiba and is approximately 30 miles off Panama’s Pacific coast. Coiba National Park is a group of 38 islands and the waters surrounding them covers 430,825 acres (Nacional Parque Coiba.)

Between 1919 – 2004, Isla Coiba served as a penal colony and access to the island was restricted. As a result, 80% of the islands natural resources have survived untouched and flourished through limited human contact (Nacional Parque Coiba,) but several deep-water areas including Hannibal Bank are not currently under protection.

Mission Blue embarked on an expedition to this Hope Spot to emphasize the importance of Coiba’s protection. With generous support from the STRI, Shannon and Bill Joy, Code Blue, International Community Foundation and the Sylvia Earle Alliance, a team of scientists, conservation leaders and dive professionals explored Coiba to better understand this complex ecosystem rich in diverse marine life.

Underwater exploration of the park was conducted using both scuba and Undersea Hunter’s Deep See submersible. Included were surveys of Hannibal Banks, an area previously unexplored below 200 feet.

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