10/10 would highly recommend EEOB 4420

So the trip is finally coming to a close and I have to say it was the fastest two weeks of my life. Each day was jammed packed with amazing adventures and memories were made that I will cherish forever. At the beginning of this trip I was incredible nervous to go on a trip with people I didn’t know at all and plus all the fears of the unknown. I have to say, all in all, this trip was a definite success. I think after all the hiking we did, an incline may never phase me again. Also, I’m hoping to have lost a couple of pounds from the amount of sweat I lost in the last two weeks.

One of my favorite adventures we took was when we visited the village of the indigenous Embera people. We got to experience traditional singing, dancing, learn about the plants used for medicinal purposes and also eat a traditional meal prepared by the Embera people. It was definitely one of the coolest experiences here. One thing, however, did top that. Today we took a trip to the Caribbean side and got to visit a beach. A beach is much more up my alley than the hiking through a forest thing. We were able to swim to a small peninsula off the coast that was covered in small tide pools that held many creatures. We saw a variety of crabs and fish as well as an abundance of interesting crustacean known as chitons.

chiton 1

The chiton is able to blend in with the surface of its tide pool surrounding. Source: Google Images

As much as I have been to the beach in my life, I had never come across these little guys before. At first I didn’t even realize that there was a living creature underneath the shell that blended in so well with the surrounding coral. Once they were pointed out, I realized how abundant these critters were. Most chitons are typically found in tide pools similar to where we found them today but they have also been found at depths of 1000 meters or more (Topic: Chitons, n.d). Today, around 750 species have been identified (Chitons, n.d). Most feed on algae but also on other organisms that include sponges, bryozoans, and coelenterates (Topic: Chitons, n.d). It has also been found that some species of chiton have adapted and can become carnivorous and prey on other small crustations. Another adaptation of chitons are their light sense organs (Chitons, n.d). This adaptation allows them to detect the time of day or the level of tide. Typically, they are most active at night or during high tide (Topic: Chitons, n.d). While at the beach, we were able to get one off the rock after it resisted being picked up using a vacuum technique. Underneath it’s armor-like shell, it looked similar to a snail or similar mollusk organisms.

After this trip, I have a much bigger appreciation for nature and all the various species of animals, plants, fungi, and everything else that keep it up and running. During this trip, I learned an incredible amount about several tropical species that, for most, we were able to actually see out in the field. I learned about species I’d never heard of and species I thought I already knew about but learned a whole other level of information about. I am very grateful for everything this trip has allowed me to do and being able to meet the people I met and would without a doubt sign up to do it again!!



~Chitons (Polyplacophora). (n.d.). . Martina Eleveld. http://www.molluscs.at/polyplacophora/index.html?/polyplacophora/main.html.

~Topic: Chitons (Class Polyplacophora) | Te Papa’s Collections Online. (n.d.). . http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/topic/967.

All in a day at BCI

Today we took our first trip to Barro Colorado Island! The island was created when the Chagres River was dammed in preparation for the Panama Canal. It then became a nature reserve and since then, the island has flourished with countless species of animals, insects and a wide variety of plant species. Work has been done on the island for nearly a decade and still continues to be done today. Researchers come from all over the world to study the immense biodiversity on Barro Colorado.

cuipo tree

The base of a Cuipo tree is often swollen with long roots spreading across the jungle floor.

The morning began with a boat ride to the island with views straight out of Jurassic Park. Breakfast was served there followed by a brief introduction presentation. We then set out on a 3-hour hike through the jungle in search of whatever we could find. Throughout the hike, my group saw a wide range of animals that can be found all over the island. These included a poison dart frog, agoutis, a tarantula, howler monkeys and capuchins as well as a long list of different bird species. We also stopped to look at some of the various plant species that can be found on the island including various species of palm trees, the Panama tree, and the Cuipo tree.

The Cuipo tree was easily the thickest tree I had ever seen and probably will ever see in my life. Early in the hike, we saw our first Cuipo tree. Our guide told us that the tree was only a juvenile which shocked everyone due to the massive size of it. Later in the hike, we saw another one
which we were told was an adult tree. An indication of how old the tree is can be found by knocking on the trunk of the tree. If the sound is hollow, the tree is younger but if not, the tree is older in age. Our guide informed us that this was because the inside of the tree is spongy when it is young and as it gets older, the inside hardens making the tree thicker so there is no hollow sound that follows a knock. Once we returned from BCI, I was interested to learn more about this fascinating tree species.

The Cuipo tree can grow up to 200 feet in size.

The Cuipo tree can grow up to 200 feet in size.

Populations of the Cuipo tree have been suffering for years due to the frequent harvest of them. Most commonly, the trunks of the trees are used for canoes or sometimes rope (Biodiversity catalog, n.d). Now that the tree is being seen as threatened, it is even more illegal than it already was to be cutting them down. According to our guide, there are many issues with getting people to obey this law. The tree also has many edible components to it. It the root is cut off, the water stored in them can be consumed as well as the seeds from the tree (Cuipo tree – Wilderness Arena
Survival, 2012).

I am excited to see what else this trip has in store for us and for all the incredible tropical species we will encounter!




-Biodiversity catalog. (n.d.). . http://www.ecologic.org/species/cuipo-2/.

-Cuipo tree – Wilderness Arena Survival. 2012, May 11. . http://wildernessarena.com/food-water-shelter/food-food-water-shelter/food-procurement/edible-wild-plants/cuipo-tree.